Study shows fish oils improve cholesterol levels in athletes

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. According to a clinical study published in January in the inaugural issue of Sports Health: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach, fish oils dramatically improved cholesterol levels in professional football players.

The two-year study titled Evaluation of Lipid Profiles and the Use of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid in Professional Football Players evaluated 36 professional NFL football players, ages 23 to 41, from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Researchers assessed emerging cardiovascular risk factors, as found in the specialized VAP Cholesterol Test, to determine whether omega-3 essential fatty acids found in fish oil can reduce these factors.

During a two month period of the regular 2006-2007 football season, each participant in the treatment group was given 2,560 mg/day of mixed EPA/DHA omega-3 fatty acid supplements in the form of fish oil soft gels.

Results showed that the omega-3 oil raised the athletes' high-density lipoproteins and lowered triglycerides and other atherogenic subfractions. Elevated levels of triglycerides are associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. These results suggest a strong benefit for lessening heart disease risk factors in football players and possibly other athletes throughout their active years, study authors said.

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