What Fish Is Best for Lowering Cholesterol?

Medically Reviewed on 5/19/2022
What Fish Is Best for Lowering Cholesterol
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, herring, and mackerel are best for lowering cholesterol

Fatty fish is the best type of fish for lowering cholesterol because it has high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce triglycerides as well as blood pressure. According to the American Dietetic Association recommendation, the following fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Swordfish

Researchers have found that fatty fish consumption can also slow down the accumulation of plaques in the arteries and reduce the risk of sudden death in people who have already had heart attacks.

In order to maximize the heart benefits of fatty fish, it is best to bake, grill, or steam these fish to avoid adding bad fats.

What are normal cholesterol levels?

Despite its bad reputation, cholesterol is required for many body functions, including developing cell membranes and producing hormones, vitamin D, and bile acids that help the body absorb fats during digestion. The main types of cholesterol include:

  • Total cholesterol
  • High-density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol
  • Low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol
  • Very-low-density lipoprotein or triglyceride

Normal total cholesterol levels are as follows:

  • Healthy adults: Less than or equal to 5 mmol/L
  • High-risk individuals: Less than or equal to 4 mmol/L
Table: Normal cholesterol according to age and gender
Age Gender Total cholesterol Non-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol HDL cholesterol Triglycerides
Younger than 19 years Males and females Less than 170 mg/dL Less than 120 mg/dL Less than 110 mg/dL More than 45 mg/dL Less than 150 mg/dL
Older than 20 years Males 125 to 200 mg/dL Less than 130 mg/dL Less than 100 mg/dL 40 mg/dL or higher Less than 150 mg/dL
Older than 20 years Females 125 to 200 mg/dL Less than 130 mg/dL Less than 100 mg/dL 50 mg/dL or higher Less than 150 mg/dL

What are the risks of high cholesterol?

High cholesterol can lead to health complications such as:

How much fish should you eat to lower cholesterol?

The American Heart Association recommends eating the following amount of fish depending on overall health:

  • Most people: At least 2 servings a week
  • People with heart diseases: At least 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids

It is important to keep in mind that although omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits, fatty fish are high in calories and overconsumption can lead to weight gain. In addition, some fish are high in mercury content and toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls, which can be harmful especially for children and pregnant women.

What other foods are good for lowering cholesterol?

In addition to fatty fish, other heart-healthy foods include:

  • Seeds such as flaxseeds and chia seeds
  • Nuts such as walnuts and almonds
  • Canola oil
  • Avocados
  • Olive oil
  • Oats
  • Whey protein found in dairy products
  • Omega-3 enriched eggs
  • Foods fortified with sterols and stanols

What lifestyle changes can help with lowering blood cholesterol?

Lifestyle modifications that can help with lowering blood cholesterol include the following:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid trans fats and saturated fats, such as red meat, added sugar, cheese, butter, and high-fat dairy products
  • Eat heart-healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, and whole grains
  • Engage in regular exercise for at least 30 minutes a day 5 days a week
  • Maintain healthy blood sugar and blood pressure levels
  • Avoid or limit alcohol intake
  • Avoid or limit tobacco and smoking
  • Manage stress


What is cholesterol? See Answer

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 5/19/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Morgan Griffin. The New Low-Cholesterol Diet: Fatty Fish. WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/low-cholesterol-diet-fatty-fish

Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers. Mayo Clinic: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/art-20045192

How to Naturally Lower Your Cholesterol. Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/from-fiber-to-fish-oil-natural-ways-to-lower-your-cholesterol/