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Cholesterol and Triglycerides: Eating Fish and Fish Oil

Overview

Fish is a lean protein source that contains omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fat can be part of a heart-healthy diet.

Fish oil supplements are another way to get omega-3 fatty acids. Research has not proved that fish oil is helpful for everyone. That's why doctors do not agree about whether these supplements can help protect your heart.footnote 1

If you have severely high triglycerides, your doctor may recommend you take fish oil to try to prevent a problem with your pancreas called pancreatitis.

Taking fish oil supplements

You can buy fish oil supplements without a prescription. And sometimes doctors recommend a prescription fish oil medicine. This medicine is a highly concentrated form of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil. This medicine is used along with diet and lifestyle changes for high triglycerides.

If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, called a blood thinner, do not take fish oil without talking to your doctor first. Taking fish oil at the same time as blood thinners may cause problems with bleeding.

Talk with your doctor first if you want to take more than 2 grams a day of a fish oil supplement.

Some people burp more often or have a fishy taste in their mouths when they take fish oil supplements.

References

Citations

  1. Abdelhamid AS, et al. (2020). Omega-3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3: CD003177. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub5. Accessed September 15, 2021

Credits

Current as of: May 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Rhonda O'Brien MS, RD, CDE - Certified Diabetes Educator
Kathleen M. Fairfield MD, MPH, DrPH - Internal Medicine