While DHA and EPA have hundreds of healthful benefits, those two omega-3 fatty acids are best known for their ability to put the kibosh on inflammation – not the "good" kind of inflammation that helps the body heal, but the chronic type at the root of almost all things bad, health-wise, including heart disease and cancer.
Together, EPA and DHA reduce the production of molecules like cytokines and inflammatory eicosanoids that are linked to this chronic inflammation.
Those fatty acids have long been thought of as kind of a Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley pro-wrestling tag team in the way they'd pummel offensive molecules into submission and shut down multiple inflammatory pathways. Neither fatty acid has been touted as being superior in this regard, but EPA still gets most of the good press while DHA has more or less been regarded as a supporting player – a sidekick.
This second fiddle status of DHA has persisted, regardless of recent research that shows its starring role in preventing or slowing Alzheimer's, shoring up male reproductive health, preventing heart arrhythmias, lowering diastolic blood pressure, and increasing lifespan in general.
So yeah, DHA has all that stuff going for it and now it can puff its chest out even farther because some surprising new research has popped up that shows DHA might be the true anti-inflammation star of the fatty-acid duo.
EPA Taps Out
A 34-week double-blind trial involving 21 subjects conducted at Tufts University compared the effects of DHA and EPA and found the following:
- DHA lowered the genetic expression of four types of pro-inflammatory proteins, compared to EPA only lowering one type.
- DHA lowered white blood cell secretion of three types of pro-inflammatory proteins compared to EPA only lowering one.
- DHA lowered levels of an anti-inflammatory protein, while EPA didn't.
The results prompted Stefania Lamon-Fava, a "cardiovascular nutritionist," to opine the following:
"These results suggest that DHA is the more powerful of the two on markers of inflammation in the body..."
That certainly doesn't mean that EPA isn't important. Jisun So, lead researcher on the study of EPA vs. DHA, concluded that it's important for the body to maintain a balance between pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory proteins and EPA was crucial in helping maintain that balance.
How to Use This Info
Unfortunately, especially in light of this current study, most fish oil supplements contain more EPA than DHA because of tradition and, well, that's what you find in whole fish.
Companies, by and large, bring in raw fish that's been cut into pieces. They cook it with steam and then centrifuge it to separate it into fat-free dry solids and liquid (water and oil). This water and oil mixture, called "press liquor," is then further processed to separate the two liquids. The oil is then "polished" to remove impurities.
A more succinct version of that process is that they just squeeze the hell out of the fish and put the oil into capsules. You usually get the EPA/DHA ratio the fish had when they went to fish heaven.
This definitely isn't true of Biotest's Flameout®. Instead of using the catch-as-catch-can method used by the vast majority of fish oil manufacturers, Biotest uses a process where the individual bioactive fatty acids are separated from the fish oil, further purified, emulsified, molecularly distilled, and then measured out in very specific ratios to achieve the exact DHA/EPA ratio they want, one that unlike any other major fish oil product on the market, has a lot more DHA in it than EPA.
Take a look at the DHA/EPA content in a serving of Flameout®:
- Total free fatty acids: 4,625 mg.
- DHA: 2,200 mg.
- EPA: 880 mg.
That's an impressive amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Compare that with almost any formulation on the market and you'll see that none come close in total omega-3 fatty acids, purity, and especially, DHA content. Therein, along with its comparability to pharmaceutical-grade fish oils, lies the unique beauty of Flameout®.
Related: The Omega-3 You're Missing
Related: Stop Using Fish Oil Made for Women
- Jisun So, et al. EPA and DHA differentially modulate monocyte inflammatory response in subjects with chronic inflammation in part via plasma specialized pro-resolving lipid mediators: A randomized, double-blind, crossover study, Atherosclerosis, December 7, 2020.