Eat Fish Twice a Week to Ward Off Heart Disease
The heart group has long recommended that people eat fish — preferably fatty varieties — once or twice a week. Now it is reaffirming that advice based on additional evidence that fish helps ward off heart disease.
Specifically, adults should strive for two 3.5-ounce servings of fish each week, the American Heart Association (AHA) said. The best choices are oily fish with large doses of omega-3 fatty acids. The options include salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, lake trout, herring and sardines.
Whatever you choose, just don’t fry it, the group warned.
That’s because studies have found that fried-fish lovers have increased rates of heart failure.
The main omega-3 fatty acids in fish are EPA and DHA, said Sonya Angelone, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
EPA has anti-inflammatory effects that might help counter the hardening and narrowing of arteries that can lead to a heart attack, Angelone said.
Beyond that, she said, omega-3 fats may also make the blood less prone to clotting, while high doses can help lower triglycerides — a type of blood fat.
Oily fish is not the only source of omega-3, said Angelone, who was not involved in the AHA recommendations.
“Chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts are good sources of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which is a precursor to EPA — which is then converted to DHA,” Angelone said.
The problem, she added, is that only a small amount of that ALA is converted. And a persons’ gene variants help determine that conversion.
In contrast, the heart association noted, 4 ounces of salmon each week would provide adults with the recommended daily intake of omega-3 — which is around 250 milligrams.
The latest heart association advice does not differ from its previous recommendations, issued in 2002. But there is now much more evidence to back it up.
Eric Rimm, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, is the lead author of the AHA report, published May 17 in Circulation.