Two new studies offer more evidence that eating several servings of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids each week may reduce the risk of heart disease and death.
The first study, conducted by researchers from Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston, compared 94 men who died suddenly from heart disease with 184 healthy men.
They discovered that men without heart disease were 81 percent less likely to experience sudden death if they had high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood, regardless of other risk factors such as age or smoking habits.
Found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, omega-3 fatty acids are believed to lower the risk of developing an irregular heart rhythm and to reduce blood cholesterol and clotting.
A second study, published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at data from 85,000 women involved in the Nurses Health Study and found those who consumed at least five servings of fish per week lowered their risk of coronary heart disease by more than 33 percent and cut their risk of fatal heart attack by 50 percent.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans, and 50 percent of people who die suddenly of cardiac causes had no previous signs or symptoms of heart disease.
''Mounting evidence suggests that there is an inverse association between fish intake and heart disease in women and men,'' writes study author Dr. JoAnn E. Mason.
''We recommend that people eat more fish as part of a healthy diet.''
Source: The New England Journal of Medicine, 2002; 346, 1113-1118; The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2002; 287, 1815-1821.