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Good cholesterol levels may be increased by eating fish

Harold Mandel's picture
Nutritious salmon and spinach

There is no doubt that eating high quality fish is generally good for your health. Over the years research has supported the benefits for cardiovascular health of consuming a great deal of fish. Fish is also a great part of a low calorie diet which can help with weight control. Recent research has shown that eating fish increases good cholesterol levels.

Researchers studied the combined effects of wholegrain, fish and bilberries on serum metabolic profile and lipid transfer protein activities in subjects afflicted with metabolic syndrome, reported PLOS One. Increased consumption of fish was found to be associated with increased concentration of large HDL particles, larger average diameter of HDL particles, and increased concentrations of large HDL lipid components, even though the total levels of HDL cholesterol were found to remain stable.

It was concluded consuming a diet rich in whole grain, bilberries and particularly fatty fish causes changes in HDL particles with a shift of their subclass distribution toward larger particles. It is thought these changes may be associated with known protective functions of HDL such as reverse cholesterol transport, which may partly explain the known protective effects of fish consumption against atherosclerosis.

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The researchers found that increased consumption of fish can boost good cholesterol levels, reports the University of Eastern Finland in a discussion of this study. According to this study increasing the intake of fatty fish increases the number of large HDL particles. It was observed that people who increased their consumption of fish to a minimum of 3–4 weekly meals had more large HDL particles in their blood than people who do not eat fish as often. It is thought that large HDL particles protect against cardiovascular diseases.

It has been known for a long time that eating fish is beneficial for health. However, the mechanisms by which fats and other useful nutrients found in fish work in the human body have not been fully understood. In this new study done at the University of Eastern Finland new information has been provided dealing with how the consumption of fish affects the size and lipid concentrations of lipoproteins which transport lipids in the blood. The participants in this study increased their consumption of fatty fish in particular.

The researchers observed that a higher consumption of fish increased the number of large HDL particles and lipids which were contained in them. It has been shown in studies that HDL cholesterol, which is also known as good cholesterol, and large HDL particles, are efficient in actually sweeping extra cholesterol off of artery walls. There is an association with lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases with large HDL particles, whereas small HDL particles may even have opposite effects.

Participants who ate at least 3–4 fish meals per week showed positive changes in lipid metabolism. The study participants consumed fatty fish such as salmon, rainbow trout, vendace, and herring. There was not any added butter or cream used in the preparation of fish. This study did not offer answers as to whether a similar effect would have been observed if the study participants mainly ate low-fat fish such as zander and perch. It is possible low-fat fish may have other health benefits such as lowering of blood pressure. The findings in this new study support the Finnish nutrition recommendations which encourage people to lower the consumption of red meat and to increase the consumption of fish and other sea foods.

I have observed a growing interest in the value of nutrition for improved health. This has lead to more interest than ever in the value of diets which are high in fruit, vegetables and fish and low in red meat, to help nurture good heart health and optimal weight control. However, some skeptics still question the value of eating more fish and less red meat for good overall health due to their enjoyment of red meat. Presentations of this rational scientific explanation of why it is a fact that fish is good for heart healthy blood cholesterol profiles should make believers out of more people that fish simply is good for your health and too much red meat certainly is not.