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Plasma marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular risk factors: data from the ACE 1950 study

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A high intake of marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) might improve cardiovascular (CV) health. We conducted a cross-sectional study to investigate associations between plasma phospholipid levels of marine n-3 PUFAs and CV risk factors, educational level, physical activity and smoking habits.


A total of 3706 individuals from a general population, all born in 1950 and residing in Akershus County, Norway, were included in this study. The main statistical approach was multivariable adjusted linear regression.


Plasma marine n-3 PUFA levels ranged from 2.7 to 20.3 wt%, with a median level of 7.7 wt% (interquartile range 4.3–11.1 wt%). High levels of plasma marine n-3 PUFAs were associated with lower serum triglycerides [Standardized regression coefficient (Std.β-coeff.) − 0.14, p < 0.001], body mass index (Std. β-coeff. −0.08, p < 0.001), serum creatinine (Std. β-coeff. -0.03, p = 0.05), C-reactive protein levels (Std. β-coeff. – 0.03, p = 0.04), higher levels of serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (Std. β-coeff. 0.08, p < 0.001) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (Std. β-coeff. 0.04, p = 0.003). High levels of plasma marine n-3 PUFAs were also associated with lower glycated hemoglobin (Std. β-coeff. – 0.04, p = 0.01), however, only in individuals without diabetes. We found no associations between plasma marine n-3 PUFA levels and fasting plasma glucose or carotid intima-media thickness. High levels of plasma marine n-3 PUFAs were associated with higher educational level, more physical activity and lower prevalence of smoking.


In this cross-sectional study of Norwegian individuals born in 1950, high levels of plasma marine n-3 PUFAs were favourably associated with several CV risk factors, suggesting that fish consumption might improve CV health.

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Akershus cardiac examination


Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor


Angiotensin receptor blocker


Body mass index


Carotid intima-media thickness


Chronic kidney disease


Confidence interval


C-reactive protein




Cardiovascular disease


Docosahexaenoic acid


Estimated glomerular filtration rate


Eicosapentaenoic acid


Food frequency questionnaires


Glycated hemoglobin


High-density lipoprotein


Interquartile range


Low-density lipoprotein


Polyunsaturated fatty acid

Std. β-coeff.:

Standardized regression coefficient

Unstd. β-coeff.:

Unstandardized regression coefficient


Weight percentage


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We acknowledge the skilled study staff at the Clinical Trial Unit, Division of Medicine, Akershus University Hospital, and the Department of Medical Research, Bærum Hospital, Vestre Viken Hospital Trust. We also thank the staff at The Lipid Research Laboratory, Aalborg University Hospital, Denmark, who performed the fatty acid analyses. Finally, we would like to thank the study participants.


The ACE (Akershus Cardiac Examination) 1950 Study is funded by two health trusts (Akershus University Hospital HF and Vestre Viken HF), and the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, the University of Oslo, and the Norwegian Health Association. A.C was supported by public funding grants from Akershus University Hospital.

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AC, IAE and MS designed the present study. HR, MNL, TB, TO and AT designed and organized the ACE 1950 Study including baseline examinations and data collection. TV, HI-H, EBO and OMR performed carotid ultrasound and baseline examinations. EBS was responsible for the fatty acid analyses. AC, IAE and MNL analysed the data. AC, IAE, EBS, TO and MS edited the manuscript, HR, TV, HI-H, EBO, OMR, MNL, TB and AT co-edited the manuscript. All the authors approved the final version of the manuscript. AC submitted the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Anupam Chandra.

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Chandra, A., Røsjø, H., Eide, I.A. et al. Plasma marine n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular risk factors: data from the ACE 1950 study. Eur J Nutr 59, 1505–1515 (2020).

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