Does vegetable oil attenuate the beneficial effects of fish oil in reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease?

Daniel H. Hwang*, Prithiva S. Chanmugam, Donna H. Ryan, Mary D. Boudreau, Marlene M. Windhauser, Richard T. Tulley, Ellen K. Brooks, George A. Bray

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Contradictory reports on the protective effect of fish consumption on cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk could be due to variations in the intake of n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Metabolic competition between n-3 and n-6 PUFAs suggests that n-6 PUFAs in vegetable oils could attenuate the efficacy of n-3 PUFAs in fish oil to favorably alter endpoints relevant to CVD risk. We determined the effects of varying dietary amounts of fish oil on lipid and thrombotic endpoints relevant to risk factors for CVD and whether these effects were attenuated by vegetable oils. Two randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel studies were conducted in human subjects fed varying amounts of n-3 and n-6 PUFAs; n-3 PUFA intake was varied by using fish or placebo oil capsules, and n-6 PUFA intake was modified by incorporating varying amounts of safflower oil into the diet. Endpoints included changes in membrane fatty acid composition, blood lipids, and thrombotic profile. The results indicated that absolute amounts of fish oil, and not the relative amounts of fish and vegetable oil (ratios of n-3 to n-6 PUFAs), determined the magnitude of the reduction of arachidonic acid and increase in eicosapentaenoic acid in phospholipids of plasma and platelets. The suppression of plasma triacylglycerols by fish oil was not affected by varying amounts of dietary n-6 PUFAs. Fibrinogen concentrations decreased with 15 g but not with 9 g fish oil/d fed at the same ratio of n- 3 to n-6 PUFAs. The efficacy of fish oil in favorably modifying certain risk factors for CVD was not attenuated by vegetable oil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-96
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1997


  • Arachidonic acid
  • Cardiovascular disease risk
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid
  • Fish oil
  • Humans
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Ratio of n-3 to n-6 fatty acids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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