A study shows that fish oils are more effective than the statin drug Lipitor in positively affecting the levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in obese and insulin-resistant men. HDL cholesterol protects against atherosclerosis by removing excess cholesterol from arterial cells, and low HDL levels can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly for those who are obese or insulin-resistant.
In the study, fish oils and Lipitor were given to 48 men, both separately and combined. Fish oil and Lipitor together greatly lowered plasma triacylglycerols and raised HDL cholesterol levels.
Fish oil alone influenced HDL cholesterol by altering the production and catabolism rates of HDL apolipoproteins (catabolism is the breakdown of complex molecules metabolically into simpler ones). Lipitor did not increase this effect when combined with the fish oils, and did not produce a similar effect on its own.
In addition another study has determined that daily doses of fish oil containing omega-3 fats can, when combined with exercise, act as an aid to weight loss.
The study examined overweight and obese people over a period of three months. They were divided into four groups: one that took fish oil but did no exercise, one that exercised (45-minute walks or running three days a week) but took no fish oil, one given both, and one given neither.
Those who both took fish oil and exercised lost an average of 4.5 pounds over the course of the study, even though they were given no dietary restrictions. None of the other groups lost any weight at all. The combination worked because the omega-3s increased fat-burning ability by improving the flow of blood to muscles during exercise.
Omega-3s have also been shown to boost brain functioning and cut the risk of stroke.Resource: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition