Over 100 million Americans have high cholesterol, yet many of these individuals can make simple lifestyle changes to improve these levels.
You may have heard that taking fish oil with omega-3s can help, but is that REALLY true?
First, let’s talk about some important facts about cholesterol and risk factors.
High cholesterol is one of the leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Total cholesterol levels above 240mg are considered high, and put you at greater risk for developing dangerous health conditions.
When cholesterol levels are high, fat deposits accumulate in the blood and tend to clog up arteries and make it more difficult for oxygen-rich blood to circulate to the brain. LDL is considered bad because it actually carries the fat deposits through the body. HDL on the other hand, is good because it absorbs and helps remove these fat deposits.
High cholesterol is caused by a variety of factors including:
- Cigarette smoking
- Being overweight
- Poor nutritional habits (like eating an abundance of foods high in cholesterol & saturated fats)
- Not exercising
- Elevated blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Genetics, or family history
Can Taking Fish Oil Really Help Lower Cholesterol?
One of the reasons fish oil is accepted as a heart-healthy supplement by the medical community is due to its ability to help lower cholesterol. According to research, taking fish oil supplements which are high in EPA and DHA (two of the most beneficial omega-3 fatty acids) can have a significantly positive effect on LDL cholesterol levels. In some cases, the reduction was as high as 50%!
Besides reducing the bad types of cholesterol, fish oil has also been shown to boost good cholesterol levels. This is particularly important for people who are already at a high risk for developing heart disease, have certain types of diabetes, or smoke.
Cholesterol Lowering Techniques That Work
As it can be hard to obtain an appropriate level of omega-3 fatty acids just by eating fish, your doctor may recommend taking a high quality fish oil supplement or a prescription fish oil.
However, the differences between non-prescription and prescription fish oils can be quite dramatic. In fact, recent studies show these prescription fish oils can be up to 50% less effective than those left in their natural form.
Cholesterol Lowering Techniques To Avoid
You should never attempt to self-treat your cholesterol problems without speaking with a doctor first. This is especially true if you are taking other cholesterol-lowering medications, blood thinners, or plan on taking high levels of fish oil (more than 4 grams/day) as side effects may occur.
Another natural health remedy for high cholesterol is red yeast rice. These supplements should be avoided as it is virtually impossible to accurately predict their strength or quality.