The Surprising Benefit Eating Fish Could Have On Your Heart

Fish has long been known as a healthy protein option for your diet. But now researchers say increasing your fish consumption to two servings a week may be directly linked to lowering your risk of cardiovascular issues. 

Why the link between fish and heart disease? The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish ar unsaturated fats that help reduce inflammation (via Healthline). Inflammation is particularly important to avoid, as it can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and stroke, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The health benefits don't stop there. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help lower blood pressure levels, reduce blood clotting and irregular heartbeats, and decrease triglycerides, or fat in the blood (via Mayo Clinic).

A review of four studies of 191,558 participants, published in March 2021 in JAMA Intern Med, found that for study participants who had existing cardiovascular disease, consuming 175 grams of fish led to decreased cases of heart attack, strokes, congestive heart failure, and sudden death. In those without existing heart disease, fish consumption did not have any significant heart benefits. 

How to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet

Although most seafood includes small amounts of those fatty omega-3 acids, the ones richest in heart-healthy acids are tuna, salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, cod, herring, and lake trout.

Not a seafood lover? There are other ways to get your omega-3 fatty acids. You can consume omega-3-rich foods like chia seeds, edamame, hemp seeds or ground flaxseed, salad, yogurt, and walnuts. There are also fish oil supplements available, but the link between supplements and cardiovascular disease risk is still unclear.

However, there are some additional considerations to be aware of before greatly increasing your seafood intake. Pregnant or breastfeeding women and young children should avoid eating fish with high levels of mercury contamination, according to the Mayo Clinic. And children shouldn't overdo it on fish—the serving size for a two-year-old is one ounce, and increases with age after that.

It is recommended to seek out a registered dietitian, nutritionist or medical professional first if you want to start increasing your omega-3 fatty acids. They can recommend diet changes or supplements best for you, taking into consideration any health conditions or lifestyle factors that may affect the consumption of extra omega-3s.