Eating More Fish A Wise New Year Resolution
Resolving to eat more fish, which contain long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s), would be sage advice for most consumers, especially for those with heart disease, according to current research. The December 2008 Fats of Life and PUFA Newsletter electronic publications summarize findings that seafood omega-3s protect the heart, eyes and developing brain among other benefits.
An Italian study with nearly 7,000 heart failure patients reported over three years that those who took omega-3s were 9 percent less likely to die or be hospitalized for heart disease compared with those who took a placebo. Similarly, a 13-year study with about 111,000 Japanese participants found that all types of heart disease (18 percent), and especially heart failure (42 percent), were lower in those eating the most omega-3s.
"This report provides welcome confirmation that high fish consumption is linked to significantly lower deaths from cardiovascular disease and heart failure," said PUFA Newsletter Editor Joyce Nettleton, D.Sc.
Seafood omega-3s may also benefit the heart in people with atherosclerosis, according to a new U.S. study. Participants with higher intakes of omega-3s had a third less chance than others of adverse thickening in their carotid arteries, which is associated with atherosclerosis. This observation reinforces many reports that eating fish protects the heart by discouraging atherosclerosis.
In other research, more than 25,000 Danish women who consumed 3.5 fish servings per week prior to delivery and who breastfed eight months or longer had children with higher total developmental scores at 18 months of age compared to those who ate little fish and breastfed only one month or less. These findings strengthen previous evidence that fish consumption during pregnancy is associated with better childhood development.
"Undue fear of seafood contaminants that prevents fish consumption may be detrimental to developing children," Nettleton noted. "The benefits of mothers eating seafood during pregnancy consistently outweigh the risks."
Omega-3s may also delay the onset of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a leading cause of adult blindness. Eating fatty fish weekly was shown in a recent European study of 5,000 elderly people to cut their risk by 50 percent or more of developing advanced AMD.