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Specific Fats Cut Heart Risk

Update Date: Jul 21, 2014 06:19 PM EDT

Eating the right kinds o fat could help heal the heart, according to a new study.

While it's long been known that eating too much dietary fat hurts the heart, new research reveals that consumption of the right kind of fat, like unsaturated dietary fatty acids, keeps the heart healthy by warding off cardiovascular diseases.

However, the exact mechanism and specific fat metabolites behind the heart benefits of unsaturated dietary fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), are still unknown.

Japanese researchers discovered that mice genetically engineered to produce their own EPA are protected against heart disease and possess superior cardiac function compared their natural counterparts.

Scientists also found that the EPA metabolite called 18-hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acid (18-HEPE), is required for this added benefit. Researchers explain that 18-HEPE is produced by immune cells called macrophages, which decrease inflammation and fibrosis in the heart, and treatment with 18-HEPE confirmed its heart-protective effects.

Researchers said that latest findings suggest that eating a diet rich in 18-HEPE could significantly lower the risk of heart failure in patients with cardiovascular diseases.

The findings are published in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

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