If you’re taking supplements like fish oil or a multi-vitamin in the hopes of improving your cholesterol counts, save your money. There are better, more effective strategies.
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There’s no scientific evidence that fish oil supplements will lower your cholesterol, says dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD.
Fish oil will not prevent heart disease. It can, however, help to manage some of your risk factors, Ms. Zumpano says.
Some studies have shown that fish oil can lower triglycerides and helps to thin the blood. But it’s unclear how many fish oil supplements you need to take every day to reap the benefits.
Triglycerides are the main constituents of natural fats and oils. If you have high concentrations of triglycerides in the blood, it may indicate an elevated risk of stroke.
“There’s no need to take fish oil from a supplement if you’re just generally trying to focus on heart health,” Ms. Zumpano says.
“More important, if you have a history of high triglycerides, that’s something you may want to take fish oil for,” Ms. Zumpano says.
Tempted to try a fish oil supplement to lower your triglycerides? Ms. Zumpano says check with your doctor first to see if it might help.
Vitamins and heart disease
A recent survey found that almost half of the respondents think vitamins can help lower cholesterol. But vitamins are less vital to heart disease prevention than most people think.
Taking a multi-vitamin every day will not compensate for eating food that’s high in cholesterol. Nor will a multi-vitamin repair the damage done by a poor diet.
“A daily multi-vitamin is not preventing your risk of heart disease,” Ms. Zumpano says. “A diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol can result in an increase in blood cholesterol.”
Besides, you can get all the vitamins you need from your diet, Ms. Zumpano says. A heart-healthy diet should include seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
A good diet plus exercise will do more to keep your heart healthy than popping supplements, Ms. Zumpano says.
“Eating a healthy diet, exercising and knowing your risk factors are the best ways to prevent heart disease,” Ms. Zumpano says. “It doesn’t come in a pill.”
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