Background/Aims: An elevated heart rate at rest and slower recovery following exercise are indicators of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and death. Research suggests consumption of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC n-3 PUFA) have an anti-arrhythmic effect on the heart and reduce heart rate in those with cardiovascular dysfunction. This systematic literature review aimed to investigate the current evidence regarding the effects of LC n-3 PUFA on resting and recovery heart rate in adults free from CVD.
Methods: A systematic search of the databases Scopus, Web of Science and the Cochrane Library was conducted (January 2005 to May 2015). Inclusion criteria were: randomised controlled trials investigating the effect of LC n-3 PUFA consumption on resting and/or recovery heart rate in healthy adults without pre-existing CVD. Studies were assessed for quality using the American Dietetics Association Quality Criteria Checklist.
Results: Of the eight articles identified in this review, only two showed a heart rate lowering effect of LC n-3 PUFA consumption. These two studies involved participants with elevated resting heart rates or risk factors for CVD. Recovery heart rate was assessed in only one study, which found a reduction following LC n-3 PUFA consumption.
Conclusion: Whilst a lack of an effect of LC n-3 PUFA on resting heart rate was found in most studies, supplementation with LC n-3 PUFA appeared to be effective in individuals with elevated resting heart rates. Further studies are needed to determine these effects on heart rate recovery in healthy adults.
Funding source: N/A