Researchers at McMaster University in Canada say that for those with heart diseases it may be a good idea to add more fish to their diet.
The team reports that adding at least two servings of oily fish per week can be particularly beneficial as that level of consumption was linked to a lower risk of major cardiovascular disease and death.
In their study, the research team performed an analysis of four large studies, which included 191,558 participants from 58 countries. They examined fish consumption among the participants, as well as deaths and major cardiovascular events, like heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure and sudden death.
What they found in their analysis of the data was that in people with existing cardiovascular disease, those who ate at least 175 grams (about two servings) per week of fish had a lower risk of death and major cardiovascular disease. In addition, the type of fish that had the strongest benefit were those containing larger amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish with Omega-3 fatty acids
According to experts, omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat. “Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation throughout the body, therefore lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease in people at high risk,” they explained.
According to lead co-author of the study, Andrew Mente, eating fish can provide a “significant protective benefit.” Mr. Mente feels that the study will have an important impact on guidelines for fish consumption, especially oily varieties that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing the amount of fish in the diet can have “modest cardiovascular benefit,” he said.
He further noted that, while people who are at low risk for cardiovascular disease can also benefit from eating more fish, those benefits were “less pronounced” in the study than those obtained by individuals at higher risk.
An important finding
Experts explained that this information is even more important during times like the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s important to eat well to keep your immune system in top condition and your heart healthy,” they said. “Start with choosing omega-rich fish along with plant-based omega-3 fatty acids as part of a healthy dietary pattern to lower risk of cardiovascular risk during the pandemic and beyond.”
“The best way we can obtain the benefits of fish consumption,” experts said, “is by eating at least two servings, or 8 ounces, of omega-3-rich fish a week.“ They suggest choosing fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and cod. Herring, lake trout, and mackerel are also good options.
For those who don’t enjoy the taste of fish, you can choose certain plant foods that also contain an omega-3 fatty acid called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). You can find it in walnuts, soybeans, chia seeds, hemp hearts, ground flaxseeds and various oils such as flaxseed oil, and walnut oil. Cereals, pasta, dairy, and other food products are also fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.