Can Salmon Help Fight High Cholesterol?

Eating salmon is widely considered quite healthy, but can it help fight high cholesterol? Let’s take a look.

When it comes to keeping your cholesterol low, diet plays a very important role. Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies, and our liver produces all that we require for normal bodily function. That means that most of the cholesterol that is consumed in our diet is ‘extra’ that we actually do not need.

Studies have shown a direct correlation between a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, and high levels of LDL – what is known as “bad” cholesterol. Foods that contain saturated fat include red meat, poultry and dairy products; foods that contain trans fat include fried food and takeaway, processed foods, cakes and biscuits. These should be limited in your diet as much as possible.

Salmon: A Healthy Alternative

Red meat and poultry are high in protein, which is a key component of any balanced diet. So what do you eat instead to get these nutrients? Fatty, cold-water fish such as salmon is a fantastic healthy alternative.

An average size fillet of cooked Atlantic salmon contains roughly 23 grams of protein and 6 grams of fat, most of which is healthy unsaturated fat, and only around 60 milligrams of cholesterol, which is a relatively small percentage of the recommended maximum daily intake of 300 milligrams. However, it should be noted that this cholesterol does not have a significant impact on LDL levels.

On top of this, salmon is packed with other important nutrients. It is high in vitamins D, B-12, and B-6, and is a good source of minerals like magnesium, niacin, and selenium, as well as choline, pantothenic acid, biotin and potassium.

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are considered essential fatty acids that are an important part of a balanced diet because the body cannot produce them. They play a crucial role in brain development, cell membrane function (for growth and development), and reducing inflammation.

Several studies have also linked omega-3 intake with lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease through a number of functions, one of which is its ability to reduce the impact of risk factors associated cholesterol.

Clinical evidence suggests that omega-3 can significantly reduce triacylglycerol levels, which is a key component of high cholesterol. Studies have also shown that omega-3 intake can elevate high-density lipoprotein (HDL) – “good” cholesterol – and lower very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL) – which are considered “bad” cholesterol.

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish have also shown to reduce inflammation in the body through a number of mechanisms, which may contribute to protective actions towards atherosclerosis (the buildup of plaque on artery walls, which is a key risk factor for high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease).

Remember, when preparing salmon to eat, grilling, baking or steaming are the best options. Frying fish in butter will negate the benefits of the fish due to its saturated fat content. If you are going to use oil, a drizzle of olive oil is a healthier option!

Are There Any Drawbacks of Eating Salmon?

While salmon is a healthy alternative to eating red meat or poultry, some clinical evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acid supplements may increase LDL-C levels. However, many advise that eating a modest amount of salmon – say one or two servings a week – is a great way to reduce triglycerides without affecting LDL or HDL cholesterol levels.

Also, remember that while the fat content in salmon is healthy, it is still fat that contains calories. So limit yourself to no more than 250 grams of salmon per week.

References available on request.

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