Does Omega-3 Raise Hdl

Overview

Heart disease is one of the most prolific killers of Americans. The American Heart Association estimates that over 800,000 Americans die each year from heart disease. Cholesterol plays an important role in heart health and elevated levels of the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) variety can reduce the risks of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids help raise the important HDL levels and improve cardiovascular health.

HDL

There are both good and bad forms of cholesterol. The low-density lipoprotein (LDL) collects on the walls of arteries, creating plaque that hardens arterial walls and reduces blood flow. This leads to a condition called arteriosclerosis. HDL removes LDL from the bloodstream and helps prevent and repair the ravages of arteriosclerosis.

Fish Omega-3s

The omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), play an important roll in increasing the HDL levels found in the bloodstream. A report published in Metabolism relates a study in which HDL levels increased an average of 8% after four weeks of fish oil supplements were taken daily.

Flax Seeds

Many people choose to remove fish from their diet for reasons of taste or dedication to a vegetarian lifestyle. Flax seed can provide significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, as well. Flax seed is not as rich in EPA and DHA, but it contains high levels of alpha-linolenic-acid (ALA) that the body has some success in altering to create EPA. Flax seed has also proven effective in increasing HDL levels.

Omega-3 Sources

Cold water fish are the best source for omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, halibut, cod, mackerel, and many others are rich in EPA and DHA. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include soybean oils, canola oil, leafy vegetables, eggs, and nuts.

Dangers

The most common concern with fish oil is the potentials for contamination from mercury and other heavy metals. This mostly occurs in predatory fish, and the toxins tend to collect in the muscles of the fish, instead of the fat stores that produce the fish oil. Alternative sources for omega-3 fatty acids are free from heavy metal toxins.