12 January - 20 June 2016

Consuming fatty fish and camelina oil may benefit HDL and IDL cholesterol levels

According to research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, consuming fatty fish and camelina oil are beneficial to cholesterol levels. Fatty fish are rich in long chain fatty acids such as DHA and EPA whilst camelina oil is rich in short chain omega 3 fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid. Manninen et al. report that high levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood and low concentrations of HDL cholesterol are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

According to research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, consuming fatty fish and camelina oil are beneficial to cholesterol levels.  Fatty fish are rich in long chain fatty acids such as DHA and EPA whilst camelina oil is rich in short chain omega 3 fatty acids such as alpha-linolenic acid. Manninen et al. report that high levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood and low concentrations of HDL cholesterol are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. 

The 12 week study investigated the effect of fish and camelina sativa oil intake on the size and composition of cholesterol-carrying lipoproteins, using 79 Finnish men and women aged between 40 and 72 with impaired glucose metabolism.  The participants were randomly split into 4 groups of camelina oil, lean fish, fatty fish or control group.  At baseline and at the end of the intervention blood samples were collected.  During the course of the study, physical activity, alcohol intake, smoking, body weight and use of medication were kept constant.

The fish groups were instructed to consume 4 meals of fish (100-150 g per meal) per week as either lunch or dinner.  The fatty fish group were told to consume salmon, rainbow trout, Baltic herring, vendace, whitefish and mackerel, providing around 1 g of EPA+DHA per day.  The lean fish group were told to consume tuna, pike, pike-perch, saithe and cod.  The camelina oil group consumed 27g of camelina sativa oil to achieve around 10g of alpha linolenic acid per day.  The control group and the camelina oil group were allowed to eat 1 fish meal a week but were instructed to mainly consume lean meat and chicken however the consumption of other alpha-linolenic acid was prohibited. Daily consumption records were recorded.  Using high-throughput proton NMR spectroscopy Manninen et al. measured lipoprotein particle concentration and size in fasting blood samples. 

The scientists found that in the camelina oil group “the proportion of alpha-linolenic acid in plasma phospholipids increased and differed significantly from the other groups.  Furthermore the proportion of EPA increased in the fatty fish group as compared with the lean fish group and control group and the proportion of DHA increased in the fatty fish group as compared with the camelina oil and control groups.” 

The team found that the intake of fatty fish significantly increased the particle size of HDL, whilst in the other groups particle size decreased, although non-significantly.  The authors report that this increase was due to the DHA content of the fatty fish.  The concentration of phospholipids in the large HDL particles also increased in the fatty fish group which the researchers note that “earlier studies have proposed an inverse relationship between phospholipids content of HDL and coronary heart disease and vascular stiffness. Moreover, HDL phospholipids affect cholesterol efflux capacity and possibly contribute to the anti-inflammatory activities of HDL.” They also report that alpha-linolenic acid of 10g per day decreased IDL particle concentration and “may therefore have a favourable effect on the risk of CVD.” IDL particles are a precursor of LDL which is  known as “the bad cholesterol”.  Consumption of lean fish was not associated with changes in the number, size or composition of lipoprotein particle.

RSSL's Lipids Laboratory, part of the Investigative Analysis Team has expertise in all aspects of fat analysis and fatty acid profiling, including the determination of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. To find out more please contact Customer Services telephone 0118 918 4076 or e-mail enquiries@rssl.com

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