Young women may reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease simply by eating more fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, say Danish researchers.
The study, conducted in roughly 49,000 women, 15-49 years old, found that those who rarely or never ate fish had 50 percent more cardiovascular problems over the eight year period than those who ate fish regularly. Compared to women who ate fish rich in omega-3 fats every week, the risk for heart problems was 90 percent higher for women who rarely or never ate fish.
The women were interviewed by telephone or answered food frequency questionnaires about how much, what types and how often they ate fish, as well as lifestyle and family history questions.
Researchers recorded 577 cardiovascular events during the eight-year period, including five cardiovascular deaths in women without any prior diagnosis of the disease.
Hospital admission for cardiovascular disease was much more common among women who reported eating little or no fish.
This is the first study of this size to focus exclusively on women of childbearing age. The researchers found a strong link with fish intake and cardiovascular disease in the women who were still in their late 30's.
Fish oil contains long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are believed to protect against heart and vascular disease. Few women in the study took fish oil supplements, so these were excluded from the analyses. The results were based on omega-3 fatty acids from eating fish in the diet.
Even women who ate fish only a couple of times a month benefitted. However to obtain the greatest benefit from fish and fish oils, women should follow the dietary recommendations to eat fish as a main meal at least twice a week.
The most common fish consumed by women in the study were cod, salmon, herring and mackerel.
Source: Hypertension December 5, 2011
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