For people with heart disease, eating fish twice a week may be a lifesaver.
New worldwide research shows that two 6-ounce servings a week of oily fish, like salmon, might help prevent cardiovascular disease in high-risk people, such as those who have heart disease or who have experienced a stroke.
“Eating at least two servings of fish each week appears to lower your risk of future cardiovascular events and death if you have preexisting cardiovascular disease,” said lead researcher Andrew Mente, an associate professor of health research methods, evidence and impact at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada.
“If you’re generally healthy, there’s no clear protection, although fish is probably a safe choice for them as well,” he said.
This study, however, can’t prove that fish boosts heart health, only that there seems to be a connection.
It’s the omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish that is associated with a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes, by roughly 17%, Mente said.
“The protection of fish is seen mainly for fish that contain high amounts of omega-3 fats, or so-called oily fish, such as herring, mackerel, sable, salmon, tuna [steak or canned] and sardines. Other types of fish that contain low amounts of omega-3 fats are generally neutral,” he said.
For the study, Mente and his colleagues collected data on nearly 192,000 people from five continents who took part in four studies, including about 52,000 who had cardiovascular disease.
It’s actual fish that seems to confer the benefit, not supplements, Mente noted.