Do omega-3 fatty acids protect against high cholesterol and what's the best form to get them in?

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Offline thedoc

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Elizabeth Louw  asked the Naked Scientists:
   Hi Chris,

Not sure if this counts as just a general question or a mythconception.

Unfortunately my father passed away two weeks ago, we think most likely of a heart attack as we think he may have had high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure (he didn't go to the doctors as often as he should).  He jogged every morning and passed away while jogging (he would've turned 70 this year).

Due to this my partner (37) and I (30) have now tested our cholesterol and our values are 6,6 and 6,0, respectively.  We would prefer not to start medicating ourselves yet, as my partner has previously brought his cholesterol down with jogging and I will try to join him in changing our lifestyles to more healthy lifestyles (and see if it has an effect - if no effect after 6 months we'll go the medication route).  Hence we've tried to do the usual research in terms of what dietary supplementation/changes in lifestyle might affect our cholesterol.

And this is where the question/mythconception comes in.

Everyone is going crazy about omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease/cholesterol.  It seems everyone advocates it, but here and there I've seen conflicting evidence for example that supplementation does not prevent cardiovascular disease but may be protective against death in people with a history of cardiovascular disease.

High sources seem to be the usual suspects, flax seed, walnuts, and oily fish.  But there's controversy in terms of supplementation ie popping capsules of fish oil, or the benefits from flax seed compared to if it is perhaps difficult to digest.  Walnuts seem to be interesting with evidence for blood capillary endothelial cell function increased 4 hours after eating a portion.

It seems that increasing the amount of oily fish in your diet or replacing for example red meat, especially oily red meat, with oily fish, has several benefits.  But in order to not stand in front of the fish counter for hours trying to research which one of the fillets available has the most omega-3 fatty acids, I was wondering whether as a common rule, all dark/red colour fish meat is higher in omega-3 than the white colour fish meat?

I'll have a look at your old podcasts and see if you specifically answered the questions I have somewhere else (I expect you've probably touched on it more than once) but decided to send it on to you anyway.

Kind regards and love your show (avid listener to both the podcast and sometimes 702's questions),
Elizabeth Louw
South Africa

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 29/07/2016 09:53:02 by _system »


Offline tkadm30

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Do omega-3 fatty acids protect against high cholesterol and what's the best form to get them in?

Omega-3 fatty acids from marine origin appears to lower systolic blood pressure and triglyclerides but raise LDL cholesterol levels:

So, I don't think n-3 fatty acids can decrease LDL and HDL but can certainly improves blood pressure and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The bliss of ignorance is deeper in the region of tyranny.