Fish Facts: Salmon and Cholesterol Facts
Your blood cholesterol level plays an important role in your overall health, so it’s important to keep it under control. One of the best ways to balance your cholesterol is to watch what you eat.
Several studies have shown a correlation between a diet high in saturated fat and higher levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. This can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Sources of saturated fats include
- Red meat
- Certain types of pork and chicken
- Dairy products, such as butter and cheese.
Unsaturated fats are healthier than saturated fats and can improve cholesterol levels. Foods that contain unsaturated fats are
- Fruits and vegetables
- Nuts and berries
- Fish such as salmon
What are the uses of fish?
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to lower triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood. Experts do not know the exact mechanism. Omega-3 fatty acids may also slow the growth of plaque in the arteries and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
What is the evidence?
A number of studies dating back several years have demonstrated the benefits of oily fish. In a major review of studies, researchers found that daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can reduce triglyceride levels by 25 to 30 percent. Published in 1997 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Based on the growing body of evidence, the FDA approved a new “qualified health claim” regarding the effects of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) on reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. It also allows manufacturers and sellers of foods containing these omega-3 fatty acids to advertise that their products may reduce the risk of heart disease.
How much fish do I need?
ADA spokeswoman Suzanne Farrell, MS, RD, says the current recommendation is to eat two servings of fish per week.” It’s important to find a fish that you really like,” she said. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two meals a week. If you have heart disease, they recommend taking 1 gram of EPA or DHA a day, preferably fish.
What if you really can’t stand fish?
“If I meet someone who doesn’t like fish, I don’t think it’s a good idea to force them to eat it,” Farrell tells WebMD.” Fortunately, there are other ways to get your omega-3 fatty acids.” She recommends nuts, flaxseed, canola oil and eggs, which are rich in omega-3s.
Remember, oily fish is always fattening. Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits, but they’re also high in calories. Eating too much fish can make you fat. However, most Americans don’t eat the recommended 8 ounces per week.
In addition, there are other risks associated with eating too much of certain types of fish. You may have heard that some saltwater fish, such as tuna, contain mercury. Other fish, such as salmon, may contain PCBs and other toxins. These risks may be of particular concern to young children and women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy.
Can salmon help control high cholesterol levels?
Eating healthy unsaturated fats, such as those found in salmon, has been shown to improve cholesterol levels. In fact, fish is a healthy, high-protein alternative to red meat, which is high in saturated fat. Salmon is a great alternative to red meat because it is a very nutritious food that can help improve healthy cholesterol levels. Plus, it’s delicious!
A 3-ounce cooked Atlantic salmon fillet contains an average of 23 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, most of which is healthy unsaturated fat. It is also rich in vitamin D, B-12 and B-6, and is a good source of magnesium, niacin, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium.
Salmon Healthy Recipes
Here are some delicious recipes that incorporate salmon and other nutrients that help maintain cholesterol levels and heart health.
Salmon and Broccoli with Garlic, Honey and Ginger
This recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction takes less than 35 minutes to cook and has great nutritional value.
Baked Thai Salmon
This recipe blends sockeye salmon with traditional Thai flavors to create a truly delicious fish dish. Going Loco also discusses the different types of farmed and non-farmed salmon.
Smoked Salmon and Avocado Tart
Avocado, capers and naan combine to create this simple recipe that is flavorful, textured and healthy.
Aluminum foil grilled salmon and summer vegetables
Salmon, satisfyingly grilled. This cooked classic salmon is cooked in aluminum foil directly on the grill (and is easy to clean).
Learn more about cholesterol.
Cholesterol circulates through the body in the form of lipoproteins, which are fats that cover proteins. There are two main types of lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Maintaining healthy levels of these two types of cholesterol is essential to good health.
High levels of LDL (known as “bad” cholesterol) build up in the body’s arteries, while HDL is considered “good” cholesterol because it carries cholesterol from other parts of the body to the liver and helps manage it by removing it from the body.
When arteries become inflamed, the body combines LDL cholesterol, fat, calcium and other substances to form plaque. The plaque builds upon the walls of the arteries, causing them to narrow. This can restrict the flow of blood to and from the heart and brain. As the plaque breaks down, the body works to clot the ruptured area, causing the artery to become clogged. Eventually, this can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Know Your Cholesterol Levels
A simple blood test can help you determine your cholesterol levels. Here’s how to interpret the results.
- High cholesterol: 240 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dl) or higher.
- Upper limit: 200-239 mg/dl.
- Desirable level: below 200 mg/dl.
Salmon is the best choice for improving heart health and cholesterol levels. Unlike red meat, salmon is a good source of healthy unsaturated fats that are good for cholesterol. It’s also a good source of protein and nutrients. So the next time you want to grill a steak or order a ribeye, try a salmon fillet instead.