For years, we’ve heard about “good” and “bad” cholesterol—the fats in the body. A new study on omega-3s in men with high blood-fats shows that doctors now believe it may be the size of the bad cholesterol particles—small or large—that helps keep the body healthy.
Cholesterol travels through the body inside of molecules called lipoproteins, which means fat-proteins. Lipoproteins with lots of fat but little protein are low-density or LDL, the bad cholesterol. Lipoproteins with little fat but lots of protein are high-density or HDL, the good cholesterol. Doctors believe that when LDL particles are very large, they tend to stay afloat in the blood, but when LDL particles are small, they may more easily stick to artery walls, causing plaque to build up.
In the study, 34 men aged 39 to 66 with high blood-fats took 3 grams of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) per day or a placebo for 90 days. After 45 days, researchers measured the size of the LDL particles and found that there were 21% fewer small LDL particles than at the start of the study in men who had taken omega-3. Total blood-fats also declined by 24% in the omega-3 group. There were no changes in the placebo group.
In a related study, 45 participants who were treating high blood-fat levels with statin drugs took 1,080 mg of DHA per day, 2,160 mg of DHA per day or a placebo for six months. After three months, those who had taken 2,160 mg of DHA per day had 27% lower total blood-fats (triglycerides) and 34% lower total cholesterol even though cholesterol had already declined significantly with the statin drugs. There were no significant changes in the low-dose DHA or placebo groups. The DHA in the study was from tuna fish oil.