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Fish-rich diet may decrease risk of heart disease in women

December 27, 2011

According to a new Danish study, increased intakes of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help protect young women from heart disease.

In this observational study, 48,627 pregnant women between ages 15 and 49 were asked about dietary behaviors and then monitored for any cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related hospital admissions for eight years (1). The study results showed that women who rarely or never ate fish had 50% more cardiovascular problems than those who ate fish regularly. Compared to women who ate fish high in omega-3 fatty acids weekly, the risk of CVD was 90% higher for those who rarely or never ate fish.

The researchers concluded that for younger women, eating fish would be very important for overall health, and that even though they found cardio-protective effects at relatively modest dietary levels, higher levels may yield additional benefits. Women who eat fish may find the results encouraging, but it would be important to emphasize that, in order to obtain the greatest benefit from fish and fish oils, women should follow the dietary recommendations of eating fish as a main meal at least twice a week. Men and women share many cardiovascular risk factors, but this and other studies have shown that there might also be gender differences.

The study supports the potential cardiovascular health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids observed in several studies. To date, the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have been linked to improvements in blood lipid levels, a reduced tendency of thrombosis, and improvements in blood pressure, heart rate, and vascular function.

References

  1. Strøm M. et al. Fish, n-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Diseases in Women of Reproductive Age: A Prospective Study in a Large National Cohort. Hypertension. Published online December 2011.