Effect of α-linolenic acid on vascular function and metabolic risk markers during the fasting and postprandial phase: A randomized placebo-controlled trial in untreated (pre-)hypertensive individuals

Peter J Joris*, Richard Draijer, Dagmar Fuchs, Ronald P Mensink

*Corresponding author for this work

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BACKGROUND: Only a limited number of studies have examined the vascular and postprandial effects of α-linolenic acid (ALA, C18:3n-3). Therefore, we performed a well-controlled trial focusing specifically on the effects of ALA on vascular function and metabolic risk markers during the fasting and postprandial phase in untreated (pre-)hypertensive individuals.

METHODS: In a double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled parallel study, 59 overweight and obese adults (40 men and 19 women, aged 60 ± 8 years) with a high-normal blood pressure or mild (stage I) hypertension consumed daily either 10 g of refined cold-pressed flaxseed oil, providing 4.7 g ALA (n = 29), or 10 g of high-oleic sunflower (control) oil (n = 30) for 12 weeks.

RESULTS: As compared with the high-oleic oil control, intake of flaxseed oil did not change brachial artery flow-mediated vasodilation, carotid-to-femoral pulse wave velocity, retinal microvascular calibers and plasma markers of microvascular endothelial function during the fasting and postprandial phase. Fasting plasma concentrations of free fatty acid (FFA) and TNF-α decreased by 58 μmol/L (P = 0.02) and 0.14 pg/mL (P = 0.03), respectively. No differences were found in other fasting markers of lipid and glucose metabolism, and low-grade systemic inflammation. In addition, dietary ALA did not affect postprandial changes in glucose, insulin, triacylglycerol, FFA and plasma inflammatory markers after meal intake.

CONCLUSION: A high intake of ALA, about 3-5 times the recommended daily intake, for 12 weeks decreased fasting FFA and TNF-α plasma concentrations. No effects were found on other metabolic risk markers and vascular function during the fasting and postprandial phase in untreated high-normal and stage I hypertensive individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2413-2419
Number of pages7
JournalClinical Nutrition
Issue number8
Early online date28 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Human trials
  • alpha-linolenic acid
  • Vascular function
  • Metabolic risk
  • Postprandial
  • DIET
  • N-3

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