The relationship between elevated levels of LDL cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease is uncontested. It is common knowledge that high levels of LDL cholesterol are bad news. In this article we shall look at the link between fish oil and cholesterol.
Although not as well researched as the connection between LDL cholesterol and heart disease, more researchers are starting to believe there is an inverse relationship between high levels of HDL cholesterol and heart disease. More people want to know whether fish oil can help lower cholesterol levels, particularly that of LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Fish Oil and LDL Cholesterol
- Replacing saturated fat in the diet with fish oil has been scientifically proven to lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol.1 Most Americans consume far more saturated fat than they need, and most do not consume nearly enough fish oil.
- Individuals with high levels of LDL cholesterol are far more likely to develop heart disease than individuals with low levels of LDL cholesterol. Taking fish oil supplements on a daily basis is a safe and relatively inexpensive way to lower your risk of heart disease.
- LDL cholesterol helps increase the risk of heart disease by promoting the development of plaque on artery walls. Fish oil helps the heart by helping to reduce plaque buildup.
Fish Oil and HDL cholesterol
- Fish oil is capable of promoting small increases in HDL cholesterol levels.2 While this may not sound impressive, even slight increases in HDL cholesterol levels can significantly reduce the probability of having a heart attack. HDL cholesterol levels are normally very difficult to increase, and taking fish oil is one of the only ways to effectively raise them.
- HDL cholesterol helps reduce the risk of heart attack by breaking up plaques on artery walls. It is able to do this because it has a much higher density than the LDL cholesterol that forms the plaques.
Fish Oil and Triglyceride Levels
- Fish oil has even more powerful effects on triglyceride levels than cholesterol levels. Your risk of having a heart attack or a stroke isn’t just based on your cholesterol levels: it’s also powerfully affected by your triglyceride levels.3 If you’ve already had a heart attack, new research indicates that your risk of a second heart attack may be greatly reduced by using fish oil supplements.4
- Triglyceride levels tend to increase with age. If you are middle-aged or older, fish oil supplements are almost a necessity for you.
Taking supplements on a daily basis can be challenging. It is very easy to miss a dose or two. To make sure you take your fish oil every day, you should consider using a pillbox with reminders or developing a system so that taking fish oil supplements becomes an ingrained habit. Once you have developed the habit of taking your fish oil every morning or every evening, you will rarely, if ever, forget to take it.
Making changes in your lifestyle is hard, but it is much easier to start taking fish oil daily than it is to develop a new exercise program. Of course, it goes without saying that for best results with fish oil, you should consider making additional changes in your diet and lifestyle.
The relationship between fish oil and cholesterol is strong enough to make fish oil alone effective at reducing the risk of heart disease. But combined with other dietary and lifestyle changes, its effects are even more powerful.