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How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Lower Your Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels

How omega-3 fats, mostly found in fish and fish oil, may affect your health and cholesterol. A short guide:

1. Omega-3 Fats: Fish oil has two kinds of omega-3 fats: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are important for good health and your body cannot make them¹. The American Heart Association has said for the last 20 years that they can help prevent heart problems in people who already have them¹.

2. Effect on Cholesterol: Different studies have different results. Some studies say that omega-3 fats can make triglycerides lower and high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or “good”) cholesterol higher³. There is also a small improvement in HDL cholesterol². But some studies say that fish oil can make low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol higher².

3. Studies on Supplements: The results of studies on omega-3 supplements are not clear, making both doctors and patients confused about what to do¹. For example, the REDUCE-IT study showed a big benefit of Vascepa, an omega-3 supplement, over a fake pill¹. Vascepa made blood triglyceride levels lower and made the number of heart attacks and strokes lower¹. But the STRENGTH study, which looked at a different kind of omega-3 fish oil, found no difference between the pill and the fake pill groups¹.

4. Things to Think About: While omega-3 fats from fish and fish oil may have some health benefits, it’s very important to talk to a doctor before starting any new supplement plan, especially if you have high cholesterol¹²³⁴. It’s also important to know that taking too much fish oil can make your risk of bleeding higher and might change your immune response². So, fish oil supplements should be taken with a doctor’s advice².

In summary, while omega-3 fats may have some effect on cholesterol levels, the proof is not clear. More studies are needed to fully know the connection between omega-3 fats and cholesterol.

(Note: This is a general guide and different people might need different things. Always talk to a doctor for advice that is right for you.)

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