A major new study has “raised questions about whether eating fish helps to ward off heart disease”.
Or has it raised questions about major studies?
The international research, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, concluded that two servings of fish per week is associated with a lower risk of major cardiovascular disease (CVD) among patients who already had CVD. But eating fish did not affect the health of people who did not have CVD.
Basically, fish is beneficial for the hearts of people who already have heart disease.
Study author Associate Professor Andrew Mente said: “This study has important implications for guidelines on fish intake globally. It indicates that increasing fish consumption and particularly oily fish in vascular patients may produce a modest cardiovascular benefit.”
Assoc. Prof. Mente told 3AW that for healthy people, the results of eating fish twice a week were “neutral”.
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But the study, which analysed data collected from 191,558 people across more than 40 countries, has not been met with acclaim.
“This study takes an area where there is a lot of grey, and makes it more grey,” leading cardiologist Stephen Nicholls, head of the under-construction Victorian Heart Hospital, told Nine.
“I don’t think it’s a very good paper.”
Professor Garry Jennings, chief medical adviser to the Heart Foundation, says there is probably a small benefit in eating fish, but “it may be larger in certain populations and it may be larger if it’s the right kind of fish and the right way of cooking it and the right things you eat with it are all there.”
In a commentary on the study, Professor Dariush Mozaffarian said that based on the cumulative evidence from other studies and trials, modest fish consumption appears to have some cardiac benefits. He said larger benefits may accrue from “non-fried oily (dark meat) fish”.
Clear as mud.
Diet site eatthis.com calls fish a “superfood” with benefits for the heart, brain, mental health, sleep and the joints.
“Packed with protein, vitamins and minerals, fish is also a low-calorie, zero-carb food filled with polyunsaturated fatty acids – a type of healthy fat that falls under the category of essential nutrients.”
However, dietitian Samantha Heller says it’s better for us and the planet if we choose alternatives to fish.
“With our seas being overfished and several species of fish on the verge of extinction, we and the planet can all benefit from adding more plant foods and fewer animal foods to our daily plates,” she says.
She suggests we eat more plant-based foods such as tofu, edamame, legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, nuts, whole grains and seitan, a wheat gluten protein.
“A plethora of studies have found that consuming a diet rich in plant foods decreases the risk of many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, obesity and cognitive decline,” Ms Heller says.
The Heart Foundation is unmoved by the grey areas around the health benefits of fish. It still recommends two to three servings of fish weekly.
Oily fish that is rich in omega-3 fats, such as herring, mackerel, sable, salmon, tuna and sardines, are best.
And grilling beats frying.
Do you eat fish twice a week? Do you believe eating fish is good for your health?
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