HomeDiseases & ConditionsHeart DiseaseEating Fish Can Significantly Reduce Heart Disease Risk In Young Women

Eating Fish Can Significantly Reduce Heart Disease Risk In Young Women

Young women who ate fish high in omega-3 regularly had a lower risk of developing heart disease than those who ate little or no fish, a new study has suggested.

In the first population-based study in Danish women of childbearing age, those who rarely or never ate fish had 50% more cardiovascular problems over 8 years than those who ate fish regularly. And, those who are rarely or never ate fish had a 90% higher risk of heart disease than those who ate fish high in omega-3 weekly.

Researchers used a Danish nationwide population based pregnancy cohort to examine whether or not eating more fish might reduce the risk of heart disease in the young women.

About 49,000 women aged 15-49 were interviewed by telephone or answered food frequency questionnaires about what types and how often they ate fish, the amount of fish they eaten, as well as lifestyle and family history questions.

Researchers recorded 577 cardiovascular events during the eight-year period, including five cardiovascular deaths in women without any prior diagnosis of the disease. In all, 328 events were due to hypertensive disease, 146 from cerebrovascular disease, and 103 from ischemic heart disease.

Inpatient and outpatient admission for cardiovascular disease was much more common among women who reported eating little or no fish. In three different assessments over a 30-week period, women who never ate fish had a three-fold higher disease risk compared to women who ate fish every week.

“The biggest challenge in getting health messages like this across to younger populations is that usually the benefits may not be evident for 30 or 40 years, but our study shows this is not the case. We saw a strong association with cardiovascular disease in the women who were still in their late 30’s,” said Marin Strom, lead researcher and post doctoral fellow at the Center for Fetal Programming, at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Fish oil contains long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are believed to protect against heart disease. Few women in the study took fish oil supplements, so these were excluded from the analyses and the results were based on the dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids, not intake from supplements.

The most common fish consumed by women in the study were salmon, mackerel, cod, and herring.

“Our study shows that for younger women, eating fish is very important for overall health, and even though we found cardio- protective effects at relatively modest dietary levels, higher levels may yield additional benefits,” Strom said.

The study has been published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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