Swapping your weekly steak for some salmon may pay some big dividends for heart health. Especially if you’re a man over 50 or woman over 60.
A brand new study from the National Food Institute on Denmark is showing that replacing red or processed meats with fish a few times a week can have big benefits for your heart and longevity.
Including 350 grams of fish—about 12 ounces—per week could do the trick to keep a cardiovascular event at bay. And although that’s more fish than commonly suggested—most outlets suggest about seven-ounces per week for adequate omega-3’s—the added seafood may come with extra benefits. There is one caveat, however: you stick to certain types of fish.
To get the biggest benefit from including more fish in your diet, high-fat, low mercury options are best. Rich in omega-3’s, fish like salmon (with skin) herring and mackerel seem to have the most benefit for heart health. Slightly leaner cuts with an adequate amount of fat, like Pollock, are also good. But when you look at leaner fish, there appeared to be no benefit at all.
And for all you tuna lovers out there, bad news: tuna intake was actually associated with negative health. It’s too lean, too high in mercury, and does not contain enough healthy fatty acids.
The lead researcher in the investigation, Sofie Theresa Thomsen, calculated that by making the swap, the Danish population could add 7,000 healthy years of life and save 170 deaths from coronary artery disease each year.
Men over 45 and women over 60 may have the most to benefit by swapping processed and red meats for fatty. One study found that between the ages of 45 and 50 men have an 80 percent higher risk of cardiovascular-related death than women. Those numbers, however, even out when women reach age 60. Of course, why wait? A preventative diet can help keep potential problems at bay.