cholesterol, triglycerides and benefits for the heart

The omega 3 I am lipids belonging to the category of essential fatty acidsin the same way as omega 6.

Structurally, they are molecules characterized by carbon chains rich in hydrogen atoms and ending with a methyl group.
Omega 3 perform many functions essential to maintaining health and guarantee a series of metabolic benefits which, indirectly, have a positive impact on heart health.

There are three types of omega 3:alpha linolenic acid (ALA), l’eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and thedocosahexaenoic acid (DHA); of these three molecules, the most biologically active ones are DHA and EPA.

Although in different foods and in different quantities, omega 3 are all present in the diet; EPA and DHA tend to be more deficient than ALA; from the latter, however, the human organism is able to obtain the first two.

The term essential indicates that the human organism is not capable of producing them autonomously and that, in order to have them, it can only introduce them with food.
In reality, this is only true for ALA, as EPA and DHA can be obtained from ALA; However, considering that the process that allows EPA and DHA to be obtained from ALA is somewhat precarious, it is still acceptable to define EPA and DHA themselves as essential.

To know more:
Omega 3 supplements: what they are, what they are for and which are the best

Action of omega 3 on triglyceride levels

The nutritional intake of omega 3 is linked to lipemia (total amount of lipids in the blood), in particular the amount of triglycerides in the blood (triglyceridemia).

A significant intake of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) tends to decrease triglyceridemia.
Proven and recognized by research institutes all over the world, this effect – the decrease in triglycerides in the blood – is one of the most important functions of omega 3.

  • The hypotriglyceride-lowering action of omega 3 is visible not only with the decrease in total triglycerides, but also with the decrease in certain transport lipoproteins (especially the LDL, i.e. low-density lipoproteins); the effect of reducing triglycerides could be the result of three different mechanisms:
  • Although EPA and DHA perform differentiated and highly specific biological functions, they both have hypotriglyceride-lowering properties.

L’American Heart Association claims that “those who need to reduce triglycerides in the blood should consume, in agreement with their doctor and using supplements, from 2 to 4 grams of EPA and DHA per day”.

N.B: the chemical form of omega 3 used in the most recent studies is the “ethyl ester”, i.e. the same one used for the production of supplements.

Action of omega 3 on cholesterol levels

The positive action of omega 3 on lipemia seems to be limited to triglycerides and their reduction in the blood; several scientific studies, in fact, have shown that the administration of omega 3 does not significantly alter the levels of LDL (the so-called bad cholesterol), HDL (the so-called good cholesterol) and total cholesterol levels in the blood (cholesterolemia).

It is important to point out, however, that there is research whose results are in contrast to what has just been reported (i.e. they claim that omega 3 could improve LDL, HDL and total cholesterolemia).

Action of omega 3 on heart health

To protect and promote heart health,American Heart Association recommends the following:

There are, however, some recent studies that question the cardio-protective effect of omega 3; according to this research, in fact, the intake of ALA, EPA and DHA does not always significantly reduce the risk of cardiac pathologies, such as coronaropathyl’coronary insufficiencythe coronary stenosisthe sudden cardiac death el'myocardial infarction (including the fulminant variant).

Nonetheless, it is important to remember that there is indisputable evidence regarding the positive effect of omega 3 on many factors favoring cardiovascular pathologies; this evidence says for example that omega 3:

  • They reduce triglycerides;
  • They reduce blood pressure, both in normotensive people (i.e. with normal blood pressure) and in those suffering from primary arterial hypertension;
  • They reduce the damage associated with chronic hyperglycemia;
  • Anti-inflammatory factors increase;
  • They thin the blood, reducing the tendency to form emboli and thrombi;
  • They improve blood circulation.

Based on recent research, the positive influence that omega 3s have on certain cardiovascular risk factors is greater when these essential acids come from a balanced diet, rather than from supplements; the reason for this, however, is unclear and needs to be explored further with further studies.


Nutritional supplementation of omega 3 cannot completely make up for an unbalanced diet, but pharmaceutical and over-the-counter products (especially with DHA and EPA coming from fish oil, algae, krill etc.) are to be considered useful for reach the minimum requirement of the least present essential fatty acids.

In conclusion, it should be noted that, according to yet other studies, a excess omega 3above all poorly preserved and in case of shortage Of Vitamin E, it may have the opposite effect to that of protecting against certain cardiovascular risk factors.
In light of this, it is important to avoid both its deficiency and excess.

To know more:
Omega 3 supplements Side Effects and Contraindications

Is Omega 3 Deficiency possible?

For the reasons stated above, it is necessary to take omega 3 in the right quantities, avoiding nutritional deficiency.

The human body “should” be able to effectively obtain EPA and DHA from ALA (more abundant in foods).
However, for various reasons (including malabsorption, enzymatic insufficiency, etc.) this ability may be compromised; in this case, a nutritional deficiency may occur and become necessary increase the nutritional intake of EPA and DHA.

To avoid the deficiency of all omega 3, it is advisable to follow some dietary behaviors, including:

  • Eat vegetables regularly, fruit, Whole grains, legumes e other seeds (e.g. flax, chia, perilla, cranberry, soy etc.), as they are sources of alpha linolenic acid. Many people overlook the fact that the “natural” source of ALA is the sum of all these foods, not the oil that can be obtained from them.
  • Eat 3-4 servings of fish per week, preferably small in size (limit the consumption of tuna steaks, swordfish, etc.) and fished (avoid, if possible, the consumption of farmed fish). Such a food product is rich in EPA and DHA.
  • Replace a small portion of the traditional seasoning with seeds rich in ALA and the relative cold pressed oilused raw and well preserved.

An oil (but also another food or supplement) potentially rich in omega 3, if exposed to light, heat, open air, cooked or simply “old”, no longer has the same nutritional characteristics.

  • If necessary, complete the diet by using a food supplement, preferably based on DHA (fish, algae, krill oil). In this regard, it is good to remember that, compared to any derived supplement, foods benefit from greater stability and conservation (thanks to the presence of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, zinc and selenium) and that, for on the other hand, they are less concentrated and require more attention and continuity in hiring.

To know more:
Omega 3 supplements: Properties, When to Use Them and Contraindications


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