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Fish Consumption and Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Do They Lower Cholesterol?


Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats found in fish, phytoplankton, and in the form of supplements. Polyunsaturated fats, especially EPA and DHA, have a reputation for being heart-friendly fats because they do not promote atherosclerosis associated with causing heart disease. Previous research has shown that individuals consuming omega-3 fatty acids have decreased risk of sudden death from heart disease. Recent research has indicated that it may also lower the risk for heart disease by improving your lipid profile. So, does it help lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels?

The Studies Look Promising…

The usual dose used in these studies ranges between 900 mg a day of EPA. In order to achieve this amount, one would need to consume a lot of fish. Therefore, supplements are typically used. The easiest and most effective suggestion is taking it in a live form, such as PhytOriginal. Ingesting 900 mg of omega-3 fatty acids each day resulted in a 4-percent decrease in triglyceride levels after six months. The average effective dose used in most studies was between 2 to 4 grams, and this resulted in an average drop in triglycerides between 25 to 45 percent. The effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids on triglycerides is dose-dependent, meaning that the more omega-3 fatty acids ingested, the lower your triglyceride levels will fall. This works best when following a healthy diet. Omega-3 fatty acids seemed to affect recently ingested triglycerides more. Additionally, individuals with extremely high triglyceride levels (greater than 500 mg/dL) seem to derive the most benefit from omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

Although it can lower triglyceride levels, it may slightly raise low density lipoproteins (known also as LDL or the “bad” cholesterol). This change, however, is modest and ranges from 3 to 10 percent. High density lipoproteins (also known as HDL or the “good” cholesterol) do not seem to be affected by omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, if not slightly increased.

How Much Should I Take Each Day?

Omega-3 fatty acids are either available as a prescription or as a supplement at your local pharmacy or nutritional store. One gram of, or a single dropper of phytoplankton, omega-3 fatty acid supplementation a day would cause a decrease in triglycerides and would help prevent sudden death from heart disease. An average of four grams of omega-3 fatty acids are typically used to reduce triglycerides in individuals with high trigylceride levels. It is recommended that individuals taking more than 3 grams a day should be under the supervision of a health-care provider, since high doses of omega-3 fatty acids decrease the aggregation of platelets, which may cause bleeding to occur more easily.