Fish Oil and Cholesterol Studies – How Fish Oil Reduces Cholesterol!
The relationship between fish oil and cholesterol has been explored for many years. The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are what are thought to have the positive impact on cholesterol numbers in studies. While there is still some debate in the scientific community regarding just how positive of an effect fish oil may have on blood fats as opposed to other natural treatments like supplements and vitamins for cholesterol, new and exciting studies are breathing new life into the potential heart healthy benefits of fish oil.
Mercola.com references one of these studies that point to the ability of fish oil to help increase HDL cholesterol in the blood. The study showed that in men that were obese or resistant to insulin, fish oil was more effective than Lipitor at raising HDL levels. HDL cholesterol is often referred to as “good” cholesterol. However, this blood fat is not good on its own. The reason it is beneficial actually has to do with its impact on bad cholesterol. HDL traverses the blood vessels and finds and removes build ups of bad (LDL cholesterol) that have started to accumulate. Dr. Mercola further explains that this link between fish oil and cholesterol, noting that fish oil is thought to affect the molecular break down rates and production of HDL apolipoproteins, a phenomenon not observed with Lipitor use alone.
WebMD also discusses the relationship between fish oil and cholesterol, and discusses a study in which positive effects on cholesterol were observed in participants using a combination of red yeast rice and fish oil. Because fish oil may lower triglyceride levels in the blood, when combined with the LDL lowering effects of red yeast rice (thought to work by hindering bad cholesterol production) participants experienced positive effects on blood fat levels, even beating out the popular drug, Zocor.
These promising new studies point to fish oils and Omega-3 fatty acids supplements as a hopeful up and coming alternative method to control cholesterol levels in non high risk individuals and those without existing coronary diseases. However, the Mayo Clinic points to a few reasons why considering food sources of the fatty acids might be an altogether better idea than electing the best supplement to lower cholesterol instead. Whole sources of Omega-3 fatty acids are often chock full of other nutrients that the body needs, like selenium. Even the best supplement to lower cholesterol may be devoid of these natural compounds that the body needs to stay healthy. Additionally, there is some debate as to whether or not the body is able to absorb nutrients from supplements as well as those derived from whole food sources.
Thankfully, exploring the link between fish oil and cholesterol reduction can be a tasty endeavor indeed. Many fish are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, like sardines, tuna and salmon. Additionally, other fish that can help provide a boost in fatty acids are mackerel, halibut and trout. But, while fish may be the best known source of the compounds, there are other Omega-3 fatty acid foods to consider for those less than keen on ocean based protein sources. Many nuts like almonds and walnuts are good sources too. The Mayo Clinic explains that not only are these nutty sources potential cholesterol reducers, they are also able to help keep blood vessels healthy, thanks to their polyunsaturated fat content. When combined with other good cholesterol foods such as those high in soluble fiber, Omega-3 fatty acid rich edibles can help further positively impact LDL levels.
The relationship between fish oil and cholesterol is only beginning to be understood. The benefits are largely related to the potential of the compounds found within fish oil to impact good cholesterol levels. For those opposed to statin medications or, those who are looking to get their cholesterol under control before it becomes a high risk problem, dietary considerations such as adding in more foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids or the use of cholesterol lowering supplements may be an option. However, it is important that any treatment plans be discussed with a healthcare provider before proceeding. Natural ways to lower cholesterol may show promise in studies, but they may not be right for everyone. And, although the link between fish oil and cholesterol reduction shows great promise, there may be reasons why it is not an ideal choice for you. Your doctor can help you to understand the role that supplements and diet play in your particular situation and how they may affect your health and medications that you are taking to help you determine if fish oil is right for you.