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Consumption of fish twice a week is good for heart: AHA

Consumption of fish twice a week is good for heart: AHA

The American Heart Association (AHA) has issued a new advisory according to which consumption of fish (a rich source of  omega-3 fatty acids) twice a week helps in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, ischemic stroke and sudden cardiac arrest. The advisory is published in the journal Circulation.

The advisory is an updated version of 2002 American Heart Association scientific statement “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease. The present science advisory reviews this evidence and makes a suggestion in the context of the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and in consideration of other constituents of seafood and the impact on sustainability.

The new AHA advisory is written by a panel of nutrition experts consisting of Eric B. Rimm, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues. 

“Since the last advisory on eating fish was issued by the Association in 2002, scientific studies have further established the beneficial effects of eating seafood rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, especially when it replaces less healthy foods such as meats that are high in artery-clogging saturated fat,” said Rimm.

AHA Recommendations:

  • Eat two 3.5-ounce servings of non-fried fish, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish every week.
  • Emphasis should be placed on eating oily fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines or albacore tuna, which are all high in omega-3 fatty acids.

The nutrition experts also reviewed studies about mercury in fish and found that while mercury contamination may be associated with serious neurological problems in newborns but it does not have adverse effects on heart disease risk in adults, and the benefits of eating fish substantially outweigh any risks associated with mercury contamination, especially if a variety of seafood is consumed.

The importance of environmentally sustainable fish farming techniques and other topics are also briefly discussed in the advisory. A previously published American Heart Association advisory on Omega-3 fish oil supplements noted that the supplements are not recommended for the general public to prevent clinical cardiovascular disease because of a lack of scientific evidence regarding any effect on cardiovascular risk.

“1 to 2 seafood meals per week be included to reduce the risk of congestive heart failure, coronary heart disease, ischemic stroke, and sudden cardiac death, especially when seafood replaces the intake of less healthy foods,” concluded the authors.

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Source: With inputs from Circulation

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  1. It is interesting to peruse the article.

    However, before consumption of fish is recommended widely, the following points needs consideration:

    1. The conclusion is drawn from the observational studies. Therefore to make such recommendation without perfect causal relationship could be imprecise. Particularly as in a recent meta-analysis of 10 studies, involving >77,000 participants, found no significant reduction in heart disease or major acute coronary events with fish oil supplementation (1).

    2. The fish in the diet loses its purported benefit when it replaces a vegetarian meal, or if the fish is fried. The maximum benefit of fish is seen when it is replaced with processed meats (highly unhealthy food item).

    3. It is hard to conclude that benefit of fish consumption outweighs the risk of mercury toxicity. This is particularly relevant to pregnant ladies and children with growing brains.
    1. Aung T, Hasley J, Kromhout D, et al. Association of omega-3 fatty acid supplement use with cadiovascular disaese risk. JAMA Cardiol.2018;3 (3) 225-234