The most health conscious among us have known for decades that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is good for our health. Only in recent years, though, have experts begun to learn the full extension of the reasons why. At the center of this revelation is the newly identified fatty acid docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), which has been found in elevated levels in the diet of Greenland Intuits, whose incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is remarkably low, per naturalproductsinsider.com. Until DPA was isolated as a fatty acid found in fish oils, presumably in just the last six to seven years, it was thought that there were only two key omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The third and newest fatty acid on the block, DPA, has been identified by experts as an elongated version of EPA, thanks to the presence of two additional carbon units in its chain. The best source of DPA, per xtend-life.com, is the bearded seal, which is said to contain 5.6 grams of DPA in a 100-gram serving. While bearded seal or even whale blubber won't be found in great quantity in American grocery stores, perhaps two other types of fish oil with high DPA concentrations will – menhaden (4.9 grams of DPA per 100 in a serving) and salmon (3 grams per serving). Other fish relatively abundant in omega-3 fish oils include albacore tuna, lake trout and sardines. Laboratory studies have shown that DPA can be found in a number of our body's tissues, most notably the heart, kidneys and skeletal muscle from whence it provides a variety of functions related to blood health and cell proliferation.
DPA Benefits Cited in Numerous StudiesThere is growing evidence of just how important a role DPA plays in our bodies when it comes to health enhancement. Here's some of it:
- A study done at Harvard, per naturalproductsinsider.com, and featuring 30,000 participants, found that elevated plasma concentrations of DPA were accompanied by lowered heart attack risk. Likewise, turning it around, a separate study found that test subjects showing signs of CVD had lower levels of EPA, DHA and DPA.
- Two other clinical studies have demonstrated correlation between the presence of DPA and prevention of CVD in people. In one of those, conducted in Finland, it was found that DPA can reduce the chance of heart attacks. The other study, done several years later in Japan, produced very similar results as it relates to DPA and CVD.
- Using animals as test subjects and cell cultures in their study, scientists have attributed DPA's health-inducing properties to its capacity to lessen inflammation, endothelial cell migration and proliferation, and angiogenesis, which, per naturalbiology.com, are some of the major biochemical and cellular pathways that can lead to arteries developing plaques which contribute to (CVD) and heart attacks.
- The existence of DPA in our bodies can also serve a positive cognition function. Researchers at a college in Dublin, Ireland, recently published a study in which they found that DPA can help guard against normal cognitive decline related to aging. The researchers found that when DPA was fed to rats, they were able to preserve synaptic connections within cells in the brain – connections that would normally be severed because of aging but when retained can restore some of the cognitive function that had been lost.