HEART
May 22, 2018

Give Fish a Chance

Eating fish twice a week dramatically cuts your risk of heart problems. You can learn to love it. Really.

One of the best things you can do for your heart is to eat fish, especially fatty fish, twice a week. This has been the position of the American Heart Association (AHA) since 2002, and the AHA has just reaffirmed its recommendations on fish and cardiovascular disease in an advisory published in Circulation.

Your body needs the omega-3 fats found in certain kinds of fish. Just two servings a week can reduce your risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. So maybe it’s time to give fish a chance.

Canned fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, are good and healthy options and an easy way to keep fish on hand.

Research has continued to show the benefits of eating seafood that is rich is omega-3 fatty acids, particularly when it replaces meat-based meals that are high in saturated fat, explains Eric B. Rimm, chair of the American Heart Association writing group and a professor at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are all high in the omega-3 fatty acids you want. The AHA guidelines suggest eating two 3.5-ounce portions or about ¾ cup of flaked fish each week. Avoid deep-frying your fish, and stay away from heavy sauces and breading that add calories and fat. Enjoy it grilled, baked, poached, steamed or pan-fried instead.

Do You Have a Fish Problem?

If you’re not a fish eater you can use the Internet to find “recipes for people who hate fish.” It's also a good place to find fish recipes that don't involve frying. Start with mild fish, like tilapia or flounder, and work your way up to the oilier fish that have the most omega 3s. Squeezing a whole lemon over fish before cooking can reduce the smell that some people find offensive.

Canned fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, are good and healthy options and an easy way to keep fish on hand. They can be added to salads or pasta for a quick meal. You may also want to have some frozen fish filets in the freezer. The nutrition experts who wrote the advisory also looked into the presence of mercury in large fish like swordfish and tuna. Mercury contamination could be harmful to infants, but it does not affect adults. They concluded that the heart benefits of eating fish outweigh any risk, especially if you eat a variety of seafood.

The AHA does not recommend using fish oil supplements to prevent heart disease and stroke, citing a lack of evidence that they reduce the risk of these diseases.

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