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Fish Oil and Heart Disease

Risk Factors for Heart Disease and Fish Oil

There are a number of risk factors for heart disease, which are conditions or behaviors that increase a person's chances for developing it. Some of the risk factors that can be controlled include:
As mentioned earlier, fish oil can lower blood pressure. However, despite all of the benefits it offers, fish oil does not increase HDL (good cholesterol) or lower LDL (bad cholesterol) or total cholesterol. Fish oil also does not affect fasting blood sugar or insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes, nor does it appear to affect plasma insulin levels or insulin resistance.

Recommendations for Fish Oil

So should everyone take fish oil supplements or consume fish oil for heart disease prevention? Not necessarily. For people without risk factors for heart disease, the added cost of these supplements is probably not worth any possible benefit; however, these people can still increase the amount of fish they eat as part of a heart-healthy diet. People should try to eat oily types of fish at least twice a week.
For people at serious risk for heart disease, or those already with heart disease, increasing the amount of fish oil in one's diet or taking supplements is a good proactive step. People should get at least 1 gram of fish oil per day, whether through their diet or through supplements.
People considering taking fish oil supplements should not take more than 3 grams a day due to the increased risk of bleeding. Anyone thinking about taking these supplements should talk with their healthcare provider, as there could be interactions with medicines they are already taking.
Finally, preventing heart disease requires more than just fish oil. It involves adopting the well-proven prevention approaches that reduce the risk of heart disease, such as:
  • Following a heart-healthy diet
  • Getting regular physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Quitting smoking (or not starting at all)
  • Controlling high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
If you still have questions after reading this eMedTV article, talk to your healthcare provider about fish oil and heart disease. He or she can help you determine if this product is right for your situation.
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