Coronary heart disease is a growing problem in a world where fast means better. People are searching for fast food, fast exercise, fast pleasure and fast results. The problem with fast is that it isn’t always the best option.
Taking care of your heart and your health is a long-term condition that is effective only if you continue to work at it each day. One factor in your arsenal of heart disease prevention is eating fish. The benefits of eating fish are many, but there appears to be some concern as well.
In an article in the Washington Post in October 2006 the writer quotes a study that indicated eating two servings of fish per week would decrease the overall mortality of participants by 17%. The death rate was 36% lower in those people who ate fish twice a week as opposed to those who ate little or no seafood. One of the studies published was from the Journal of the American Medical Association and the other by the Harvard School of Public Health. (1)
In another study that was federally funded and released by the Institute of Medicine echoed those same conclusions that the health benefits of eating seafood outweigh the risks. (2)
Even though fish contains methyl mercury the IOM report supported the current federal guidelines that advise women who are pregnant, nursing or plan to become pregnant and children 12 and under to avoid eating swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel. The report also advised that those groups should also limit white tuna to six ounces per week. They did say that they can eat up to 12 ounces of other fish per week. Canned and farm raised salmon have the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids and the lowest amount of mercury.
Although these new studies helped to settle the question of the risks of eating seafood there doesn’t seem to be consensus about the benefits of eating fish. In a recent study published in the British Medical Journal the researchers found no overall decrease in heart disease risk or cancer from eating omega-3 fatty acids.
Scientists are able to point to the large power plants that produce electricity and that also release mercury that is dumped into the oceans and fresh water environments. The mercury accumulates through the food chain and reaches the people who eat the fish.
In a 2004 analysis by a graduate of the Department of Nutrition found strong evidence for the cardiovascular benefits of fatty acids from fish and supplements and on blood lipids. The American Heart Association recommends that you eat at least 2 servings of fish each week to lower your risk of coronary heart disease. Their recommendations are that you eat salmon, trout and herring that is baked or poached without adding additional saturated fats or trans fatty acids. (3)
The benefits of eating fish outweigh the risks according to several studies. And the benefits of eating fish help to protect your heart and circulatory system from disease, stroke and heart disease.
(1) Washington Post: Benefits of Fish Exceed Risks
(2) Institute of medicine: Seafood Choices: Balancing Benefits and Risks
(3) Journal of Nutrition: The Omega-3 Fatty Acid Nutritional Landscape: Health Benefits and Sources
MayoClinic: Omega-3 in Fish: How Eating Fish Helps Your Heart
CNN: The Benefits of Eating Fish
Washington State Department of Health: Health Benefits of Fish
medical News Today: What are the Benefits of Eating Oily Fish
Harvard School of Public Health: Fish: Friend or Foe
American Heart Association: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
University of Michigan Health System: Healing Foods Pyramid
The Journal of American medical Association: Eating Fish: Health Benefits and Risks