Eat fish to keep heart healthy, say experts

November 19, 2002 in Heart Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Eat fish to keep heart healthy, say experts

People should try to eat at least two servings of fish every week to get a good dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) in a report released this week. The benefits of eating fish regularly have been underscored by recent research pointing to additional health effects of these "good" sources of fat.

Recent studies that have found that fish--especially fatty fish such as tuna, salmon and sardines--that contain omega-3 fatty acids have protective effects on the cardiovascular system. Researchers have shown that these substances can lower the risk of developing an irregular heart rhythm and blood clots, and can reduce levels of fat in the blood known as triglycerides--all risk factors for heart disease. In addition, another study demonstrated that people who consume omega-3 fatty acids might experience a reduction in arterial hardness and blood pressure.

For patients with heart conditions, dietary intake may not suffice to provide the higher doses of omega-3 fatty acids they need. Consequently, the AHA recommends that people with high levels of triglycerides in their blood take supplements that contain an additional amount of omega-3 fatty acids. However, they note that high omega-3 fatty acid intake can lead to bleeding, so patients should consult their doctors before taking supplements with high doses of fatty acids.

Plant foods can contain another, less potent omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid, which is found in tofu, vegetable oils, walnuts and flaxseed, the authors note.

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