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Eating Fish May Protect Diabetics from Heart Disease

Fish and diabetes

People with Type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition to controlling blood sugar with carbohydrate counting, the inclusion of fish in the diet may be protective.


Heart disease is a very serious complication of having diabetes. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, two out of three people with diabetes will suffer a serious fatal event such as heart attack or stroke. Lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise are critical to lowering risk.

A new study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition has found that middle-aged and older adults with type 2 diabetes who consume fish at least twice per week have a lower risk for myocardial infarction (MI, or heart attack) and coronary heart disease-related (CHD) death.

The researchers analyzed data from more than 2000 adults and found those eating such fish as herring/mackerel, salmon/whitefish, cod and shellfish had a lower risk of suffering heart attack.

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Fish consumption is associated with a greater intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce heart disease risk through anti-inflammatory effects as well as the nutrient may play a role in lowering blood pressure and regulating heart rate. Fish also provides a dietary source of vitamin D, which may be cardioprotective.

When fish is used to replace other meats in the diet, it is also likely that overall saturated fat intake will decline. Fish protein may also improve insulin sensitivity – that is, it may help improve blood sugar by removing glucose from the bloodstream.

Obviously, one single food is not going to be enough to completely lower risk. The researchers found that those eating fish were more likely to adhere to a diet similar to DASH – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – and were more likely to be physically active. The participants were also less likely to smoke – another heart disease risk factor.

Journal Reference:
Alice Wallin et al. Fish consumption in relation to myocardial infarction, stroke and mortality among women and men with type 2 diabetes: A prospective cohort study. Clinical Nutrition 2017

Photo Credit
By Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons