Manage your cholesterol levels with fatty fish and camelina oil

Researchers from Finland have discovered that eating fatty fish could benefit people with impaired glucose metabolism. The study, published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, looked at how fatty fish affected cholesterol levels, in particular, high-density lipoprotein (HDL). They also established that camelina sativa oil reduces harmful intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL) levels in the body.

For the study, researchers looked at whether the intake of fatty fish and camelina oil had any effect on the size and composition of cholesterol-carrying lipoproteins. HDL, also known as the “good” cholesterol, is beneficial to the body; however, it depends on the size and composition of the particles. Based on earlier studies, larger HDL particles are linked with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease; consequently, smaller HDL particles increase the risk. IDL, on the other hand, is a forerunner for low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or the “bad” cholesterol. Additionally, studies have shown that camelina oil is rich in alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid with less-understood associations with lipoproteins. They also evaluated how shorter n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) chains affect lipoprotein subclasses using intakes of fish and camelina sativa oil. This was done using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Seventy-nine Finnish men and women – all aged between 40 and 72 years and had impaired glucose metabolism – volunteered for the study. In the 12-week intervention, the participants were randomly assigned into four groups: Camelina sativa oil, fatty fish, lean fish, or a control group.

Those in the fish group were instructed to consume either fatty fish or lean fish four times a week, while those in the camelina sativa oil group used 30 mL of oil daily. Participants in the control group were limited in their intake of fish and were not allowed to use oils that contained alpha-linolenic acid.

Based on the findings, the researchers discovered that consuming fatty fish increased the size and lipid composition of HDL particles. In addition, using camelina oil reduced the number of harmful IDL particles. “These changes may favorably affect cardiovascular risk,” they concluded. (Related: Fish Oil and Fatty Fish Protect Men from Heart Failure.)

Other natural ways to manage cholesterol levels

Aside from consuming fatty fish and camelina sativa oil, there are other ways to naturally manage a person’s cholesterol levels.

  • Avoid trans fats. Food items that contain “partially hydrogenated” oil in the ingredients contain harmful trans fats.
  • Eat your fiber. This feeds the gut bacteria needed to reduce LDL levels in the body. You can get fiber from beans, peas, lentils, and psyllium – to name a few.
  • Exercise. Even 30 minutes of exercise can increase HDL and reduce LDL.
  • Lose some weight. People who lose weight also lose cholesterol in the body.
  • Stop smoking. In a study, smoking was linked to decreased HDL levels and increased total cholesterol.
  • Drink in moderation. Two drinks per day, at most, can improve HDL cholesterol and reduce the risk of clogged arteries.

For the most part, cholesterol is needed by our body to provide vital functions; however, a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle puts it out of control and increases the risk of disease. In particular, increased LDL levels in the body is a significant risk factor for heart disease.

On the other hand, HDL protects the heart by carrying cholesterol from the blood vessels to the liver.

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