How Cod Liver Oil Affects Heart Health

cod liver oil soft gel with heart tracing behind it

What are the benefits of taking cod liver oil for your heart’s health? Can this healthy oil really lower your cholesterol levels or thin out your blood?

Cod liver oil is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Scientific research has proven that these polyunsaturated fatty acids can have a tremendous impact on your heart health and blood lipid levels.

Cod liver oils contains natural sources of Vitamin A and vitamin D which also have many health benefits.

Recent research on healthy adult subjects that took specific dosages of cod liver oil found it had some beneficial effects on their blood lipid levels.

The effects of cod liver oil on your heart’s health shows it may:

  • reduce your risk for heart attacks and strokes.
  • increase healthy cholesterol levels.
  • lowers triglyceride levels.
  • reduce your risk for blood clots

Cod Liver Oil Improves Cholesterol Levels

stethoscope on EKG heart tracing

A number of published studies have shown many health benefits of cod liver oil for heart health and cardiovascular fitness:

Study 1:

Researchers at the University of Tromso, Norway pital in Norway found cod liver oil reduces cholesterol levels which may lower the risk for blood clots and strokes.

In this study, a group of healthy men took 20 ml. per day of cod liver oil (about 4 teaspoons) for a few weeks.

Blood test confirmed that cod liver oil induced an increase in HDL cholesterol (the healthy cholesterol) with a prolonged bleeding time.

Scientists concluded that cod liver oils induce changes in serum lipid and platelets with the reduce tendency for thrombosis (blood clots).

Study 2:

A similar study at The Science Institute at the University of Iceland looked at the effects of cod liver oil on serum omega 3 fatty acid levels in men with a history of heart attacks.

These men were instructed to take 20 ml. of cod liver oil every day for 6 week periods:

  • One half of the group took cod liver oil for the first 6 weeks and then stopped treatment.
  • The other half didn’t start taking cod liver oil until 6 weeks after leaving the hospital.

Researchers found all men experienced an increase in omega 3 fatty acid blood levels with lowered triglyceride levels and no change in total cholesterol.

Study 3:

Other studies indicate that cod liver oil may help improve the elasticity of blood vessels and reduce the risk for plaque build-up.

Scientists believe these effects may improve how blood vessels may heal after any damage, which will reduce the risk for blood clots forming.


Research appears to indicate there are many benefits of cod liver oil on serum triglyceride levels and for improving overall cardiovascular health:

  • Increases of omega 3 fatty acids which helps fight inflammation.
  • May reduce plaque buildup in the arteries.
  • May lower the risk for hardening of the blood vessels.
  • May lowers triglyceride levels.
  • Thins the blood which may reduce the risk for heart attack and strokes.

While more research is needed to determine the optimal dosage for cod liver oil, there are fish oil dosages recommended by the American Heart Association if you’re taking this supplement specifically for cardiovascular health.

Important Note if You’re Taking Blood Thinners:

One of the side effects of cod liver oil is it may make your blood thinner and less likely to clot.

This is important to know if you’re taking medication for bleeding disorders, blood pressure or other heart-related conditions.

Please consult your physician if you’re taking cod liver oil for your heart’s health.

Research References:

Influence of dietary cod liver oil on fatty acid composition of plasma lipids in human male subjects after myocardial infarction. Journal of Internal Medicine. 1990 Dec;228(6):563-B, Skuladottir GV, Gudmundsdottir E, Olafsdottir E, Gudmundsson TV, Hardarson T, Kristinsson A, Asvaldsdottir H, Snorrason SP, Gudbjarnason S. Science Institute, University of Iceland, Reykjavik

The effect of cod liver oil in two populations with low and high intake of dietary fish. Acta Medica Scandinavica. 1988;223(6):491-8, Simonsen T, Nordoy A, Sjunneskog C, Lyngmo V. Department of Internal Medicine, University Hospital of Tromso, Norway.

The effect of cod liver oil and corn oil on platelets and vessel wall in man. Thrombosis and Haemostasis. 1981 Oct;46(3):604-11, Brox JH, Killie JE, Gunnes S, Nordoy A.

Clinical application of omega-3-fatty acids (cod-liver oil). Klinicheskaia Meditsina (Mosk). 2005;83(10):51-7


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