Eating fish to lower risk of coronary artery disease

Eating fish may lower your risk of coronary artery disease.1 The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults eat at least two servings of fish per week. Oily fish, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, are best for your heart. These fish include tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines.2

In people with heart problems, omega-3 fatty acids may help lower their risk of death. Omega-3 fatty acids can:3

  • Lower levels of triglycerides (fats that may help clog arteries).
  • Affect blood clotting.
  • Lower blood pressure.

Omega-3 fatty acids also lower the risk of sudden cardiac death and abnormal heartbeats.

If you have high triglycerides, your doctor may recommend that you take a daily fish oil supplement with 2 to 4 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Do not take more than 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids supplements without consulting your doctor, because high amounts can cause excessive bleeding in some people.4 Your doctor may prescribe a medicine that is a highly concentrated form of omega-3 fatty acids.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children5, 6 should not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish, because these fish have higher mercury concentrations. But for middle-aged and older people, the protection fish offer the heart outweighs the risks of eating these fish. Eating a variety of fish may reduce the amount of mercury you eat.

Citations

  1. Stone NJ (1996). Fish consumption, fish oil, lipids, and coronary heart disease. Circulation, 94(9): 2337–2340.
  2. American Heart Association (2006). Diet and lifestyle recommendations revision 2006. Circulation, 114(1): 82–96. [Erratum in Circulation, 114(1): e27.]
  3. Kris-Etherton P, et al. (2001). Summary of the scientific conference on dietary fatty acids and cardiovascular health: Conference summary from the Nutrition Committee of the American Heart Association. Circulation, 103(7): 1034–1039.
  4. Kris-Etherton PM, et al. (2002). Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation, 106(21): 2747–2757.
  5. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2004). What you need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish: 2004 EPA and FDA advice for women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers, young children. Available online: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/fish/advice.html.
  6. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2006). Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish. Available online: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~frf/sea-mehg.html.

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