Dietary intake of long-chain n-3 PUFA (LCn3FA) among Japanese is generally higher than that in Western populations. However, little is known whether an inverse association of LCn3FA with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk exists in a population with higher LCn3FA intake.

To investigate the association between LCn3FA intake and the long-term risk of CVDs in a Japanese general population.

We followed-up a total of 9190 individuals (56.2% women, mean age 50.0 years) randomly selected from 300 areas across Japan and free from CVDs at baseline. Dietary LCn3FA intake was estimated using household weighed food records. Cox models were used to calculate multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios (HR) and confidence intervals (CI) according to sex specific quartiles of LCn3FA intake.

During 24-year follow-up (192,897 person-years), 879 cardiovascular deaths were observed. The median daily intake of LCn3FA was 0.37% kcal (0.86 g/day). Adjusted HR for CVD mortality was lower in the highest quartile of LCn3FA intake (HR 0.80; 95% CI 0.66-0.96) compared with the lowest quartile, and the trend was statistically significant (P = 0.038). The similar but statistically non-significant trends were observed for coronary heart disease death and stroke death. In analyses by age groups, the inverse associations of LCn3FA intake with the risk of total CVD death and stroke death were significant in younger individuals (30-59 years at baseline).

LCn3FA intake was inversely and independently associated the long-term risk of total CVD mortality in a representative sample of Japanese with high LCn3FA intake.