Which is better for lowering triglyceride levels -- fish oil or plant-based oils like flaxseed or echium oil?
As discussed in the Fish Oil Review
, high-dose fish oil with high concentrations of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA has been shown to lower triglyceride levels in people with severe hypertriglyceridemia. High-dose algal oil
may also lower triglyceride levels. (See CL's Top Picks for a highly concentrated fish oil
On the other hand, there is currently little evidence that plant-based oils like flaxseed oil
and echium oil help lower high triglyceride levels. These oils contain the omega-3 fatty acid ALA (only a small percentage of which gets converted in the body into EPA and DHA) as well as various other fatty acids. Studies have generally not shown a benefit from flaxseed oil for reducing triglyceride levels
. And while there is some evidence that supplementation with echium oil
may decrease triglyceride levels (and LDL cholesterol) in healthy people -- there do not appear to be any studies on echium oil supplementation in people with high triglycerides.
A note of caution if you also have high cholesterol
If you are considering taking fish oil or algal oil, be aware that some studies suggest these oils can potentially increase LDL cholesterol — which is also often a concern for people with high triglyceride levels. Interestingly, one study
found that supplementation with fresh, non-oxidized fish oil modestly lowered
"bad" LDL cholesterol, while supplementation with an oxidized fish oil increased
LDL, suggesting that the freshness of your fish oil may matter
when it comes to its effects on cholesterol.
Additionally, some prescription fish oils have the potential to increase LDL cholesterol, but one particular prescription fish oil
has been found lower to triglyceride levels without
increasing LDL cholesterol.
ConsumerLab.com tests fish oil supplements for freshness, and you can see the results for popular products in the Results table
in the Review.
Also, it's important to note that neither fish oil from supplements nor flaxseed oil appear to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke — except in people who have recently had a heart attack. However, eating fish
regularly may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and eating ground flaxseeds
may help to lower blood pressure.
For other proposed natural treatments, see the Encyclopedia article about High Triglycerides
Also see these related CL Answers:
Is it true that there is no point in taking fish oil supplements for heart health? >>
Is echium oil a good alternative to fish oil? I am allergic to fish. >>
Is it better to take fish oil, flaxseed oil -- or both? >>
I'm a vegan but my doctor wants me to take fish oil with EPA and DHA. Is there something I can take that would be as good as fish oil capsules but would satisfy the needs of a vegan? >>
This CL Answer initially posted on 8/19/2017.
Last updated 1/1/1900.