A new scientific advisory published on Thursday has reiterated the American Heart Association’s recommendation that eating fish twice a week is good for heart health.
Published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation, the new advisory also supports findings from many other recent studies that have also shown that a diet rich in fish could be beneficial for health.
“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 Eric B. Rimm, Sc.D., chair of the American Heart Association writing group and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
After reviewing recent research, nutrition experts concluded that eating two 3.5-ounce servings of non-fried fish or about ¾ cup of flaked fish every week could help reduce the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest and the most common type of stroke (ischemic).
Oily fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines or albacore tuna, are particularly beneficial, notes the advisory. Previous studies have also suggested that omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial for improving IQ scores and sleep in children, reducing asthma risk in children, and boosting brain health as we age.
Although a previous advisory published by the American Heart Association noted that omega-3 fish oil supplements are not recommended for preventing clinical cardiovascular disease because of a lack of scientific evidence, many studies have shown that the supplements are beneficial for other health conditions including reducing the risk of allergies and asthma, and improving the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
The review also looked at studies on mercury in fish. Although mercury is found in most seafood it is more prevalent in large fish such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, bigeye tuna, marlin and orange roughy.
The team concluded that although mercury may be associated with serious neurological problems in newborns, there is not enough existing research to suggest that mercury contamination has a negative effect on an adult’s risk of heart disease.
They also added that the benefits of eating fish substantially outweigh any risks from mercury, especially if a variety of seafood is consumed.
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