In people with existing cardiovascular issues and heart problems, eating just two helpings of fish per week reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke.
In the study researchers from the Baker Institute collected data from more than 190,000 people over a decade across 40 countries. It was clear that, if you had issues with your cardiovascular health, eating 175 gm of fish a week could significantly cut your risk of death.
But, the research then caused some controversy by adding, if you are already healthy with no heart problems, eating fish did not seem to make any difference.
In previous studies including two meta-analyses, there was seen to be some benefit to having higher levels of DHA and EPA in the bloodstream in lowering risk of cardiovascular disease.
There is no doubt the issue is complicated. The American Heart Association has recommended for two decades that you eat fish and/or supplement with fish oils for heart health. This recommendation was based on the oil in fish – Long-chain omega 3 – and on a number of randomized, controlled trials, which found that fish oil supplementation was associated with lower rates of stroke, heart attack, and death in people who already had heart disease.
Supplementing with fish oil and/or eating fish such as mackerel, salmon and tuna can prompt certain protective mechanisms:
- stabilizing blood flow in and around the heart
- reducing blood triglyceride levels
- lowering blood pressure
- preventing blood clots
- reducing inflammation
- Increasing numbers of gut bacteria that make anti-inflammatory molecules.
The AHA are currently conducting research into each of these benefits. Meanwhile the Australian Heart Foundation remains puzzled but recommends you eat oily fish.