MENU
ConsumerLab.com Answers

Question:
Which is better for lowering triglyceride levels -- fish oil or plant-based oils like flaxseed or echium oil?

Answer:
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 better to take fish oil, flaxseed oil -- or both? >>

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. >>

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? >>


See other recent and popular questions >>
Comments
Add Comment
Be the first to add a comment...

This CL Answer initially posted on 8/19/2017. Last updated 1/1/1900.

Add Comment...

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted.
Comment:

Add Comment...

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted.
Comment:

Edit Comment...

You can modify your comment below. Please be aware the comment will have to approve the changes before they will be shown:
Comment: