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Nutr Health. 2009;20(1):41-9.

Fish oil and the management of hypertriglyceridemia.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition and Food Science, American University of Beirut.


Hypertriglyceridemia, regarded as one of the independent clinical markers of metabolic syndrome, is a frequently observed disorder that has been shown to be common in the Arab region. Epidemiologic and clinical trials demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD); one of the mechanisms by which this effect is achieved is through reducing plasma triglyceride levels. There is strong scientific evidence from human trials that omega-3 fatty acids from either fish or fish oil supplements significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels and these benefits appear to be dose-dependent. The active ingredients of fish oils include the long chain fatty acids EPA and DHA. The ideal amount of omega-3 fatty acid that should be incorporated into the diet without provoking detrimental effects on other lipid components such as decreasing HDL-C and/or increasing LDL-C has not yet been elucidated. Presently, a prescription form of omega-3 fatty acid has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) as an adjunct to the diet for the treatment of very high triglyceride levels (> or = 500 mg/dl) in adults. Patients with hypertriglyceridemia have been shown to respond well to the use of omega-3 fatty acids even when used in conjunction with statins where greater improvements in the lipid profile were found as compared to treatment with statins alone. A determinant of the responsiveness to fish oil could be attributed to the ApoE genotype of individuals.

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