As Easter approaches and many people start to think about eating fish for Good Friday, new research has suggested you should start thinking about that dietary plan a lot more frequently.
Those most at risk of cardiovascular disease, such as those who have already had problems with heart disease or stroke, can help prevent further problems by eating two serves of fish per week, according to a new study.
Researchers at McMaster University in Canada analysed several large studies involving participants from more than 60 countries and found that eating oily fish was a major factor in preventing recurring heart disease.
Read more: Do omega-3 supplements reduce heart attacks?
The researchers explained that the omega-3 content in oily fish was likely to be responsible for the lower risk of major cardiovascular disease events such as heart attacks and strokes discovered in the research.
Omega-3 rich fish include salmon, herring and sardines, oysters and anchovies.
The studies found that people at high risk of heart disease who ate two servings of fish rich in omega-3 each week reduced their risk of further heart attacks and stroke by about one-sixth, compared to those in the same situation that did not eat fish.
“There is a significant protective benefit of fish consumption in people with cardiovascular disease,” said lead co-author Associate Professor Andrew Mente from McMaster University.
Read more: Five ways to get your fill of fish
The research did not uncover any benefit to eating fish among those who had no previous history of heart disease or stroke.
“This study has important implications for guidelines on fish intake globally,” Assoc. Prof. Mente explained.
“It indicates that increasing fish consumption, and particularly oily fish, in vascular patients may produce a modest cardiovascular benefit.”
Read more: Nine food and heart health myths busted
Assoc. Prof. Mente said people at low risk for cardiovascular disease could still enjoy modest protection from cardiovascular disease by eating fish rich in omega-3, but the health benefits were less pronounced than they were in high-risk individuals.
The findings were based on data from nearly 192,000 people in four studies, including about 52,000 with cardiovascular disease, and is the only study conducted on all five continents.
“This is by far the most diverse study of fish intake and health outcomes in the world and the only one with sufficient numbers with representation from high, middle and low income countries from all inhabited continents of the world,” said study co-author Dr Salim Yusuf.
If you don’t like fish and think that fish oil supplements can do just as good a job, the jury is still out on that.
Last year, YourLifeChoices reported that the effectiveness of fish oil supplements for people at risk of suffering heart ailments was still being questioned.
A study from the Cleveland Clinic found high doses of common fish oils did not lower people’s risk of experiencing heart issues.
How much fish do you eat per week? Have you had a previous heart disease problem? Has your doctor advised you to eat more fish?
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