Triglycerides play an essential role in heart health. Triglyceride levels of less than 150 mg/dL are considered normal, according to the American Heart Association. Having high levels increases the risk of heart disease. Fish oil is known to offer many health benefits, especially for cardiovascular health. Does consuming fish oil on a regular basis help reduce triglyceride levels? Here are some of the things to know about the effects that fish oil can have on this serious health problem.
Can Fish Oil Lower Triglyceride Levels?
According to Baylor College of Medicine, fish oil consumption drastically reduces triglyceride levels. While the Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are thought to be the reason it lowers triglyceride levels, it is important to note that Omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseed oil do not provide the same benefit. Krill oil and cod liver oil have been proven to lower triglycerides, however.
A study that was done by the Tufts-New England Medical Center, fish oil has a much greater effect on triglycerides than it does on HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. Studies have also shown that fish oil consumption can actually raise LDL levels, so it is important to be careful not to decrease the effects of one problem and increase the effects of another.
Can an Increase in LDL Cholesterol Levels be Prevented?
To achieve the triglyceride-lowering benefits of fish oil but also avoid an increase in LDL cholesterol levels, Publix recommends taking a fish oil supplement in combination with 900 mg of garlic extract. The garlic extract will prevent an LDL cholesterol level increase, so you can safely take fish oil supplements to lower triglycerides without worrying about causing other heart health problems.
What’s the Best Source of Fish Oil for Lowering Triglycerides?
While eating fish can be a great source of fish oil, it is important to keep in mind that eating too much fish can lead to overexposure to mercury. For this reason, it is best for anyone who is trying to lower triglyceride levels to take a fish oil supplement. Be sure to look for fish oil supplements which do not contain mercury, however, as contamination is thought to be a risk of these products.
That said, the American Heart Association recommends individuals with high triglyceride levels to eat fish which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, herring, lake trout and sardines. It is best to eat fish instead of meats which are high in fat, such as beef, if you are trying to lower triglycerides.
Keep in mind that while taking a fish oil supplement can help reduce triglyceride levels, it is important to continue with other steps to treat the problem. Many people with high triglycerides benefit from reducing their overall weight through diet and at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Reduce daily trans and saturated fat, calorie and cholesterol intake. It is also ideal to reduce alcohol consumption, as this has been linked to triglyceride levels. By making the right choices and incorporating fish oil into your diet, triglycerides can be reduced.
American Heart Association, “Triglycerides.”
Baylor College of Medicine, “Fish oil consumption mainly lowers triglycerides.”
Publix, “High Triglycerides.”