Fish Oil Supplements
and Cholesterol:
Heart Association recommends
fish oil supplements

Written by
Published in Jul 2005; Updated in Aug 2011

( Fish oil has been shown in epidemiological and clinical trials to reduce the incidence of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. Large-scale epidemiological studies suggest that individuals at risk for coronary heart disease benefit from the consumption of fish oil, as it is high in omega 3 fatty acids.

The American Heart Association updated its advice on fish oil supplements and the full article was published in Circulation 106:2747-2757, 2002. Here’s the short version of what they recommend:

People without documented coronary heart disease
Eat a variety of (preferably oily) fish at least twice a week. Include oils and foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid (flax seed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil; flax seed and walnuts)
People with documented coronary heart disease
Consume approximately 1 gram of EPA+DHA per day, preferably from oily fish. EPA+DHA supplements could be considered in consultation with a physician.
People needing triglyceride-lowering
Two to four grams of EPA+DHA per day provided as capsules such as fish oil or omega 3 supplements under a physician's care
fish oil heart cholesterol

    Other Benefits of Fish Oil

Recent studies also showed positive benefits of fish oil in IBD (Crohn's Disease and Colitis). Fish oil seems to be able to heal the inner lining of the inflamed intestines.

The Bottom Line: Collectively, data are supportive of the recommendation made by the AHA Dietary Guidelines to include at least two servings of fish per week (particularly oily fish). In addition, the data support inclusion of vegetable oils (like soybean, canola, walnut, or flax seed) and food sources (like walnuts or flax seed) high in alpha-linolenic acid in a healthy diet for the general population. It’s best to eat a variety of different kinds of fish to minimize any potentially adverse effects due to environmental pollutants and, still achieve the desired heart health outcomes.

Caution: Not all fish oil supplements are the same as salmon oil. Cod liver oil, for instance, contains high levels of Vitamin A and D. According to UC Berkeley, as little as 6,000 IU of vitamin A daily can interfere with bone growth and promote fractures in children. In addition, they also warned that since the liver acts as a filter, cod liver oil is more likely to be contaminated with toxins such as PCBs than other fish-oil supplements. If you are concerned about your cod liver oil, discuss it with your doctor.

fish oil heart disease cholesterol

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