Fish, Omega 3 and Heart Disease: A New Diet Guideline

salmon dish

( Omega 3 fatty acids from fish has been shown in epidemiological and clinical trials to reduce the incidence of heart disease by lowering cholesterol. Large-scale epidemiological studies suggest that individuals at risk for coronary heart disease benefit from the consumption of fish oil, as it is high in omega 3 fatty acids.

How Much Fish For Heart Disease?

It's recommended to have 500 mg of DHA (a specific type of omega 3) per day.  But according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, we are only eating 1/5 of the recommended amount!

The easiest way to eat 2 servings of seafood a week.  Two servings can cover our weekly DHA requirement!

What About Fish Oil?

The American Heart Association updated its advice on fish oil supplements and the full article was published in Circulation 106:2747-2757, 2002. Here's the short version of what they recommend:

  • People without documented coronary heart disease: Eat a variety of (preferably oily) fish at least twice a week. Include oils and foods rich in alpha-linolenic acid (flax seed oil, canola oil, and soybean oil; flax seed and walnuts)
  • People with documented coronary heart disease: Consume approximately 1 gram of EPA+DHA per day, preferably from oily fish. EPA+DHA supplements could be considered in consultation with a physician.
  • People needing triglyceride-lowering: Two to four grams of EPA+DHA per day provided as capsules such as fish oil or omega 3 supplements under a physician's care

Also Read: How to lower Triglycerides?

The Bottom Line

Collectively, data are supportive of the recommendation made by the AHA Dietary Guidelines to include at least two servings of fish per week (particularly fatty fish). In addition, the data support inclusion of vegetable oils (eg, soybean, canola, walnut, flax seed) and food sources (e.g., walnuts, flax seed) high in alpha-linolenic acid in a healthy diet for the general population. Consumption of a variety of fish is recommended to minimize any potentially adverse effects due to environmental pollutants and, at the same time, achieve desired heart health outcomes.

Caution: Cod liver oil is not a good substitute. It may cause toxicity in excess amount due to its high levels of Vitamin A and Vitamin D.

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