Eating more fish increases good (HDL) cholesterol levels

March 4, 2014 in Healthy Eating, Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Eating more fish increases good (HDL) cholesterol levels

According to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland, increasing your intake of fatty fish can increase the number of large HDL particles in your bloodstream. People who increased their intake of fish to a minimum of 3-4 weekly meals had more large HDL particles in their blood than people who are less frequent eaters of fish.

The consumption of fish has long been known to be beneficial for health; however, the mechanisms by which fats and other useful nutrients found in fish work in the human body are not fully known. This new study provides new information on how the consumption of fish affects the size and lipid concentrations of lipoproteins which transport lipids in the blood.

Population-based studies have shown that HDL cholesterol, also known as good cholesterol, and large HDL particles are efficient in sweeping extra cholesterol off artery walls. Large HDL particles have been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, whereas small HDL particles may even have opposite effects.

The study participants ate fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout and herring. No added butter or cream was used in the preparation of fish. The study doesn't give answers to whether a similar effect would have been observed had the study participants mainly eaten low-fat fish such as sole, perch and tilapia. Low-fat fish may have other health benefits such as lowering of blood pressure, which was observed in earlier research.

Traditionally, cholesterol is divided into "bad" LDL cholesterol and "good" HDL cholesterol, but the measurements used in this study looked at a total of 14 different particle classes.

The researchers emphasized, however, that making dietary changes to lower elevated LDL cholesterol levels is important.

Source: PLoS ONE, March 3, 2014.

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