Krill oil is a potent omega-3 supplement that is getting more and more popular. A new study has found that krill oil can significantly reduce triglyceride levels in the blood, which is an important measure for heart health. In addition to that, krill oil has been shown to improve our omega-3 index, which is another indicator for heart health!
So in this article we will look at the impact of krill oil on your cardiovascular health and what you can do to keep your heart happy and healthy throughout life.
Krill oil and heart health
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death globally and over 18 million people die from them every year. Preventing these kinds of diseases and reducing the risk of getting them could therefore also have a big impact on global public health, as well as the healthcare systems and their expenses in countries all over the world.
This is where krill oil comes into play:
Previous research shows that krill oil is clinically proven to support the three markers of heart health better than any other source of omega-3. These three markers are
- Triglyceride levels in the blood
- Omega-3 index
- Levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol
Krill oil supplements taken on a regular basis have been shown to decrease triglycerides in the blood, improve the omega-3 index and all this without increasing LDL cholesterol.
“Multiple studies tell us that krill oil is an effective supplement for reducing cardiovascular risk and improving overall heart health, with consistent evidence of increased Omega-3 Index levels in patients,” says Katina Handeland, Research & Development Director for Human Health and Nutrition, Aker BioMarine ASA.
Let’s look at that in a bit more detail.
First, what even is krill oil?
Krill oil is made from Antarctic Krill, which is a small crustacean that lives in massive swarms in the oceans of our planet. Due to their small size, they sit low in the food chain and contain little pollutants, which makes them a very clean source of omega-3 fatty acids. Just like fish oil, krill oil contains the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
But unlike fish oil, krill oil also contains some other nutrients like choline and astaxanthin, which give it some additional health benefits.
Krill Oil, Triglycerides and Cholesterol
A new study published in January 2022 showed that krill oil supplementation can significantly reduce cardiovascular risk factors as it reduces triglyceride levels in the blood.
Triglycerides are a type of fat or lipid that we have in our blood. Too much of it however, can have a detrimental impact on our cardiovascular and overall health. In the US for example, 30 % of the population has elevated triglyceride labels, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
This study is the largest clinical trial of an omega-3 formulation that has been done in this patient group to date. In this study, 520 patients with severely high triglyceride levels (hypertriglyceridemia) were taking krill oil supplements or a placebo for a duration of 26 weeks. Before, during and after the study, the patient’s triglyceride, plasma omega-3 and cholesterol was measured and the data collected lead to the following conclusions.
- Patients taking the krill oil supplement on a daily basis had a 26% reduction in blood triglyceride levels after 12 weeks. Adjusted for the placebo effect in the control group, the treatment difference was 10.9 %.
- After 26 weeks, the krill oil patients showed an average reduction of triglycerides of 33.5 %, adjusted for the placebo effect the treatment effect still was at a statistically significant 12.7 %.
- The researchers also found that the impact was even bigger for those patients, who were already taking medication for hypertriglyceridemia. Krill oil could therefore potentially be used as an adjacent therapy, to increase the effect of such medication.
To summarize, krill oil is part of the solution for the global problem of cardiovascular disease and could potentially have a significant impact on improving the health condition of millions of people in the world.
Another study showed that people supplementing with krill oil (this time for a duration of 12 weeks) showed reduced levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol in their blood, additionally to an increase in HDL “good” cholesterol. This is a very positive effect, as high levels of circulating cholesterol are also detrimental for heart health.
What Is the Omega-3 Index and How Krill Oil Influences it
The omega-3 Index is a simple test that measures the amount of EPA and DHA in our red blood cells.
A low omega-3 index is associated with a higher risk of cardiac death, whereas a high omega-3 index (6 % or more) is an indicator for good heart health. There has been a global study in 2016 measuring the omega-3 indices in a variety of countries and the findings showed that low omega-3 indices are very common. Among the regions with the lowest omega-3 index (6% or less) are for example
- North America
- Central and South America
- Central and Southern Europe
- the Middle East
- Southeast Asia
A study from 2015 showed that krill oil can efficiently increase the omega-3 index when taken on a regular basis. An increase from 4 % to 8 % can have very beneficial effects on your cardiovascular health.
How to improve your heart health
The heart is the most important muscle in our body and is responsible for moving and pumping oxygenated blood around the body. This is why it is super important that we keep our heart healthy throughout our whole lives.
Here are some things you can do to improve your cardiovascular health, which are mostly lifestyle changes and learning how to manage risk factors:
- Exercise: regular exercise keeps your heart healthy and you should bring up your heart rate with some form of exercise several times a week
- Quit smoking: this can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke almost straight away
- Healthy and balanced diet: It should be low in saturated and trans fats, salt and added sugar. Rich in whole grains, fiber, antioxidant and unsaturated fats.
- Supplements if needed: a recent meta analysis shows that the intake of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce cardiovascular mortality and improves cardiovascular outcomes
There you go, now you know why krill oil is such an important supplement for your cardiovascular health and overall well-being.
Krill oil has been shown to positively influence the 3 markers of heart health which are:
- Reduces triglyceride levels in the blood
- Improves the omega-3 index
- Does not increase levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol
There is a lot of research on the topic which just goes to show that omega-3 supplements and krill oil in particular have an important role in improving global public health when it comes to cardiovascular diseases and mortality.
If you want to find out more on the topic, head to our blog or browse our high-quality fish oil and krill oil supplements in our store.