Alcohol consumption and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in healthy men and women from 3 European populations.

R. di Giuseppe, M. de Lorgeril, P. Salen, F. Laporte, A. di Castelnuovo, V. Krogh, A. Siani, J. Arnout, F.P. Cappuccio, M. van Dongen, M.B. Donati, G. de Gaetano, L. Iacoviello*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    BACKGROUND: Because high dietary and blood n-3 (omega-3) fatty acids (FAs) are protective against coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac death, the alcohol-associated increase in blood n-3 FAs could be considered an original mechanism of alcohol's cardioprotective effect. OBJECTIVE: Our objective was to assess whether alcohol consumption is associated with concentrations of very-long-chain "marine" (eg, fish oil) n-3 FAs both in plasma and in red blood cell membranes. DESIGN: In the framework of the IMMIDIET (Dietary Habit Profile in European Communities with Different Risk of Myocardial Infarction: the Impact of Migration as a Model of Gene-Environment Interaction) Project, 1604 subjects (802 women-men pairs), aged 26-65 y, were enrolled in Italy, Belgium, and England. A 1-y-recall food-frequency questionnaire was used to evaluate dietary intake. RESULTS: In fully adjusted multivariate analyses, alcohol intake was positively associated with plasma eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexanoic acid (DHA), and EPA + DHA concentrations (P < 0.0001, P = 0.036, and P = 0.002, respectively) in women and with EPA and the EPA + DHA index in red blood cells (P < 0.0001 and P = 0.037, respectively). In men, only plasma and red blood cell EPA concentrations were associated with alcohol intake (P = 0.003 and P = 0.004, respectively). Stratified analyses showed an association between alcohol and both plasma and red cell EPA (P = 0.008 and P = 0.002, respectively), DHA (P = 0.014 and P = 0.008, respectively), and the EPA + DHA index (P = 0.010 and P = 0.006, respectively) in wine drinkers, whereas no association was found in those who drink beer and spirits. CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol intake was associated with higher plasma and red blood cell concentrations of marine n-3 FAs. Components of wine other than alcohol (polyphenols) might exert these effects. Part of the alcohol-induced cardioprotection may be mediated through increased marine n-3 FAs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)354-362
    JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


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