The present study was carried out to clarify the effects of fish diet, fish oil and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) rich oil on fasting and postprandial lipid levels in healthy male students.

The study was a randomized single-blind study with a control and three study groups.

The study was carried out in the Departments of Physiology and Clinical Nutrition of University of Kuopio.

Healthy male volunteers were recruited for the study from the university student population. Fifty-nine subjects entered and 55 completed the study.
For 15 weeks the subjects in the fish diet group ate 4.3 +/- 0.5 fish containing meals per week and those in the fish oil and DHA-oil groups ate 4 g oil per day. Fish diet provided 0.38 +/- 0.04 g eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 0.67 +/- 0.09 g DHA, fish oil 1.33 g EPA and 0.95 g DHA and DHA-oil (EPA-free) 1.68 g DHA per day.

Fasting plasma triglyceride levels decreased in all test groups in 14 weeks when compared to the control group (P < 0.05). Total plasma cholesterol levels did not change but the HDL2/HDL3-cholesterol ratio increased in all test groups by over 50% (P < 0.05). The postprandial total and chylomicron triglyceride responses, measured as areas under the response curve, were lowered in 15 weeks by the fish diet and fish oil (P < 0.05), the same tendency (P < 0.1) being seen in DHA-oil group.

These results show that both fasting and postprandial triglyceride concentrations can be decreased with moderate intakes of long-chain n-3 fatty acids either from a fish diet or fish oil and that also pure DHA has a hypotriglyceridemic effect.