Eating fatty fish a couple of times per week may save your heart from cardiovascular disease, particularly in high-risk individuals.
Canned tuna, tuna steaks, salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and other fatty fish were found to significantly lower the risk of future cardiovascular events in people with pre-existing heart disease or who had experienced a stroke.
The reason seems to be all tied up in omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish is the best source of omega-3s, which are associated with heart health, brain health, and a host of other benefits.
Eating two six-ounce servings each week was associated with a 17 percent lower risk for cardiovascular disease.
There are some conditions to these potential benefits, however. The first is that benefits were only observed in participants who had existing heart trouble. In those that were generally healthy, fatty fish seemed to offer no added protection.
Next, the benefits are only observed in fatty fish. These options are rich in omega-3.
Although non-fatty options may not harm heart health, they don’t appear to offer any notable benefits. In that case, you’ll want to focus include:
- Salmon (preferably leaving the skin on; fresh or canned)
- Tuna (steaks or canned)
The research, published March 8 in JAMA Internal Medicine, collected data from almost 192,000 people across five continents and 58 countries who participated in four studies. Fifty-two thousand of them had CVD.
Fish can be a healthy alternative to red meat, particularly here in North America, where red meat consumption is quite high. But it is not the only heart-healthy option.
Including more plant-based foods like whole grains, legumes, nuts, beans, etc., can all help promote better heart health. Fish, however, can be a great substitute for meat meals.
Concerns do exist around fish farming practices and mislabeling, so do some due diligence before buying and elect fresh when a choice is available.