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Can I Use Any Fish Oil to Reduce Cholesterol?

Updated on August 31, 2012

Major medical bodies like the American Heart Associated have pinpointed fatty fish as an excellent source of heart-helping omega-3 fatty acids. That's why so many people are consuming tuna, salmon and other fish, as well as taking fish oil supplements to improve their health. This substance has been connected with reducing high blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attacks, and lowering serum triglyceride levels. Fish oil also has some potential benefits for your cholesterol.

Of course, not all fish oils are the same, causing some people to ask: "Can I use any fish oil to reduce cholesterol"? It's easy to assume that you'll need a special product, but the truth is that you can get the benefits of fish oil through any supplement that's high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in oxidation and contaminant levels. Let's take a look at the connection between fish oil and cholesterol, as well as the best supplements for you.

Lowering Cholesterol

Daily supplementation with fish oil has been shown to lower levels of harmful LDL cholesterol, also known as "bad cholesterol". The omega-3 fatty acids that these supplements contain are helpful for removing arterial plaque and can decrease the risk of death from a heart attack.

In fact, the National Institutes of Health say that taking fish oil supplements every day actually lower the risk of death more than taking conventional statin drugs. In addition to decreasing levels of LDL cholesterol, these supplements are also known to raise levels of HDL, or "good cholesterol", decreasing the risk of coronary artery disease according to the Mayo Clinic.

Fish Oil and Cholesterol Medications

Initially, doctors were concerned that fish oil might interact with statins and other cholesterol medications in an unsafe way. As of 2012, however, the evidence suggests that fish oil not only fails to interfere with statin treatment; it actually works in combination with the drug. Adding vitamin B12 to the treatment may boost the body's ability to reduce cholesterol, as well.

The side effects of fish oil and cholesterol medications are also unrelated to one another, so there's no need to worry about these problems compounding one another. Doctors say that if a patient is already tolerating anti-cholesterol medications, there's no reason to avoid prescribing fish oil.

Increased LDL Cholesterol?

Some people become concerned about using fish oil to lower blood cholesterol because they have heard of one study where supplementation was shown to raise the levels of serum LDL. This study also showed a corresponding increase in HDL cholesterol, and its results are somewhat complicated. That's because the fish oil increased the amount of cholesterol in each LDL particle but decreased the overall number of particles in the blood. Since LDL particles are the factor that is most strongly correlated with heart attack risk, fish oil can still be considered beneficial for your heart.

Can I Use Any Fish Oil to Reduce Cholesterol?

Once you have decided whether or not fish oil may be effective for your cholesterol levels, it's time to look at the type of supplement you choose. Overall, you'll get more results from a supplement that has low total oxidation levels and a high percentage of ester omega-3 fatty acids. That's because these supplements contain more of the effective ingredients in fish oil, allowing you to take less of the supplement overall.

For anyone who wants to use natural methods to lower cholesterol, or who feels like their existing cholesterol medication could use a boost, fish oil is a viable option. By consuming pure, fresh fish supplements, you'll increase your chances of a healthy cholesterol level and a long life.

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