What is the Connection Between Fish Oil and Triglycerides?

Sarah Kay Moll

Fat not immediately used by the body is converted to triglycerides and stored for later use in fat cells. Fish oil, whether from eating fish or taking a supplement, is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of health benefits. Fish oil and triglycerides are related in that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil have been shown to reduce triglyceride levels in the body.

Mackerel is often used as the source for fish oil tablets.
Mackerel is often used as the source for fish oil tablets.

Too many triglycerides in the body can lead to a condition called hypertriglyceridemia. This can be caused by a diet high in fat or as a secondary effect of some diseases such as diabetes. Hypertriglyceridemia can lead to coronary artery disease, which can result in a heart attack.

Salmon fillets are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon fillets are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

The relationship between fish oil and triglycerides can be part of the treatment for an excess of triglycerides. Taking a fish oil supplement or replacing fatty meats such as hamburgers with fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce triglyceride levels. A healthy diet and regular exercise can also help manage hypertriglyceridemia. People who are overweight or obese can also focus on losing weight as part of the treatment for excess triglycerides.

Replacing fatty meats such as hamburgers with fish can lower triglycerides.
Replacing fatty meats such as hamburgers with fish can lower triglycerides.

There is strong experimental evidence backing the relationship between fish oil and triglycerides. Studies show that fish oil has other cardiovascular benefits such as decreasing blood pressure and slowing the hardening of arteries. Fish oil may also reduce the risk of a second heart attack in people who have already had one. Studies of people who regularly eat fish show that these people are also less likely to have a heart attack, likely because of the omega-3 fatty acid intake.

The effect of fish oil and triglycerides is dose dependent, meaning a person needs to take a certain amount of fish oil before seeing an improvement. A high dose of fish oil comes with a risk of bleeding, so people taking this supplement should consult with a physician before starting this supplement. Fish oil can be consumed as a dietary supplement, or a person can simply include more fish in his or her diet. Tuna, salmon, mackerel, and trout are among the fish highest in omega-3 fatty acids.

The relationship between fish oil and triglycerides is not the only health benefit fish oil offers, however. It has been shown to improve some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, especially morning stiffness and joint tenderness. Fish oil may also improve bone density and help prevent osteoporosis.

Fish oil supplements are rich in healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, commonly called DHA.
Fish oil supplements are rich in healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, commonly called DHA.

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