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The New Low-Cholesterol Diet: Fatty Fish

The right fish can do wonders for your heart.
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Current recommendations are to eat two servings of fish a week, says ADA spokeswoman Suzanne Farrell, MS, RD. "The important thing is to find fish that you really like," she says. The American Heart Association recommends that people get at least two serving a week. If you have heart disease, they recommend eating one gram of EPA or DHA daily, preferable from fish.

What if you just can't stand fish?

"If I meet people who don't like fish, I don't think it's a good idea to force them to eat it," Farrell tells WebMD. "Luckily, there are some other ways to get omega-3 fatty acids." She recommends walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil, and omega-3 enriched eggs.

Calories Count

Remember, fatty fish is still fatty. While the omega-3 fatty acids have lots of benefits, they're also high in calories. You'll gain weight if you overeat these fish. Most Americans, however, don't even eat the recommended 8 ounces a week.

Also, eating too much of some types of fish can carry other risks. You may have heard about mercury in some sea fish, like tuna. Other fish like salmon can contain toxins like PCBs. These risks may be especially worrisome to small children or women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

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Reviewed on February 03, 2009
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Cholesterol Glossary

  • Dietary fiber - The parts of plants that your body can't digest. If eaten regularly, fiber such as oats, pectin, and psyllium reduces serum and LDL cholesterol.
  • HDL Cholesterol - The "good" cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol helps your body remove "bad" cholesterol from your arteries.
  • LDL Cholesterol - The "bad" cholesterol, LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol tends to be deposited in artery walls.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids - A good-for-you polyunsaturated fat found in some fish and vegetables (salmon, flax seed, soybean, English walnuts, and canola oil).
  • Plant sterols - Found in plant foods, isolated from soybean and tall pine tree oils, they lower LDL "bad" cholesterol levels.

Which foods do you favor?