Fish oil supplements don’t raise bad cholesterol, study finds

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In a new study, researchers examined the link between the omega-3s EPA and DHA in fish oil and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), or the bad cholesterol.

They found that these fish oil supplements don’t raise bad cholesterol levels in the body.

The research was done by a team at the Fatty Acid Research Institute (FARI) and elsewhere.

Omega-3 fatty acids have a long history of being “heart-healthy,” and are well-known for lowering blood levels of triglycerides (but typically not cholesterol).

Recent questions have been raised, however, about one of the two “fish oil” omega-3 fatty acids — DHA — and the possibility that it might actually raise levels of LDL-C, the “bad” cholesterol.

There is good evidence that people with very high serum triglyceride levels (>500 mg/dL) who are treated with high doses of omega-3, i.e., 4 g/day of EPA and DHA commonly see a rise in LDL-C.

Whether this occurs in the “real world” with generally healthy people taking fish oil supplements for heart protection is not clear.

In the study, the team analyzed data from 9253 healthy men and women who had at least two preventive medical examinations over a 10-year period.

They found that people who started taking fish oil supplements did not experience a rise in LDL-C levels, and the LDL-C levels did not rise in people whose DHA levels increased during the time.

In fact, a 1-unit rise in DHA levels was linked to a small (1-2 mg/dL) decrease in LDL-C.

This small decrease in LDL-C is not a clinically-relevant, but this study shows that fish oil supplement use in the general population does not adversely affect LDL-C.

These new findings clearly show that people who take fish oil supplements need not worry about adversely affecting their cholesterol levels as some have proposed.

The team also noted that these results also harmonize well with the conclusions of a recent American Heart Association Advisory on the use of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of high triglyceride levels.

One author of the study is Dr. William Harris.

The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.

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