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June 2018, Week 4

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 		 [The AHA’s new scientific advisory on fish consumption reports
more evidence that seafood intake lower risks of coronary heart
disease and sudden cardiac death—especially when the seafood
replaces less healthy choices like beef or pork. ]
[https://portside.org/] 

 PORTSIDE CULTURE 

 HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU BE EATING FISH?  
[https://portside.org/2018-06-25/how-often-should-you-be-eating-fish] 

 

 Sally Wadyka 
 May 17, 2018
Consumer Reports
[https://www.consumerreports.org/healthy-eating/how-often-should-you-be-eating-fish/]


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 _ The AHA’s new scientific advisory on fish consumption reports
more evidence that seafood intake lower risks of coronary heart
disease and sudden cardiac death—especially when the seafood
replaces less healthy choices like beef or pork. _ 

 AMA report stresses the importance of eating fish , Consumer Reports 

 

New guidelines from the American Heart Association published today in
the journal Circulation cement the importance of eating fish to help
protect your heart.

The panel of experts who produced the AHA’s new scientific advisory
on fish consumption reviewed the research that has emerged in the
decade and a half since the AHA’s last issued recommendations for
eating fish in 2002.

 “We looked at several more cardiovascular disease-related
endpoints [related to seafood consumption], including congestive heart
failure, stroke, and hypertension,” says Eric B. Rimm, Sc.D., chair
of the AHA’s writing group and professor of epidemiology and
nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“Also, there is substantially more evidence now pointing to seafood
intake and lower risk of coronary heart disease and sudden cardiac
death—especially when the seafood replaces less healthy main dishes
such as beef or pork.”

In the end, the panel found no reason to change the AHA’s current
recommendations for eating fish: Have two servings of nonfried
fish—especially fatty fish—per week. A serving is 3½ ounces of
cooked fish or ¾ cup of flaked fish.

“The more recent data continues to support the benefits of consuming
fish, preferably in place of foods high in saturated fat and low in
unsaturated fat,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., director and
senior scientist at the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts
University and a coauthor of the AHA advisory.

Why Fish Is so Good for You

It’s the omega-3 fatty acids, which are plentiful in many types of
seafood, that probably confer most of the heart benefits of eating
fish. “Omega-3s are important for cell-to-cell signaling in heart
muscle and for cells within the lining of the arteries,” Rimm says.
They reduce inflammation, help prevent heart rhythm abnormalities,
improve the flexibility of arteries, and help lower cholesterol.

The advisory authors analyzed evidence from a multitude of
observational studies and randomized controlled trials, looking at the
beneficial effects of omega-3s on cardiovascular health. Some of the
key findings include:

• 50 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death in those who ate one
fatty fish meal a week compared with a diet containing little or no
seafood.

• People who ate one serving of fish a week had a 14 percent lower
risk of ischemic stroke (the type caused by a blood clot in the brain)
than those who ate little or no fish.

• Those who consumed seafood four or more times a week had a 22
percent lower risk of coronary heart disease overall vs. those who ate
it less than once a month.

Fish vs. Fish Oil Pills

If you don’t like seafood, you may wonder if you can reap the same
benefits by simply popping a pill.

The AHA released a scientific advisory on this topic last year,
recommending omega-3 supplements to people who’ve had a heart attack
or have been diagnosed with heart failure.

But for everyone else, the authors concluded that the current evidence
showed no benefit of taking fish oil supplements in preventing heart
attack, stroke, or heart failure.

“The benefits of fish are likely due in part to the omega-3 fatty
acid content, but may also be due to choosing fish in place of
high-saturated fat foods like steak,” Lichtenstein says. “Just
taking a supplement isn’t the same as making healthier choices in
your diet.” 

Is More Fish Better?

It’s possible that going beyond the recommended two servings a week
could provide additional health benefits. But hard evidence is
lacking. “There just aren’t a lot of studies that included
consumption at higher levels,” Rimm says.

Based on the available evidence, the researchers concluded that much
of the benefit comes from moving from very little or no fish in the
diet to eating fish once or twice a week. “However, if fish is
consumed four or more times a week as a substitution for other less
healthy foods, then I do think that more is better,” Rimm says.

Choose Low-Mercury Fish

One downside of increasing the amount of fish you eat is potential
exposure to mercury, a toxin that can affect brain development in
fetuses and young children, and in excess may affect the health of
adults as well.

At the same time, though, women of childbearing age (especially those
who are pregnant or breastfeeding) and children are encouraged to eat
fish to get the omega-3s that support growing brains, and everyone
should be eating fish to boost their heart health.

“It’s healthy to eat fish, and you can even eat a lot of fish. You
just need to pay attention to which fish are high or low in
mercury,” says Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives at
Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “There
are acute neurological risks of too much mercury, even for
adults—from mental fuzziness to tremors and loss of balance.”

The AHA urges people to choose fatty fish highest in omega-3s for
their two servings a week. Its list includes salmon, mackerel,
herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna.

But some of those recommendations are at odds with the Food and Drug
Administration’s guidelines for women of childbearing age and
children. The FDA lists albacore tuna as a “once a week choice.”
And while Atlantic mackerel is low in mercury and okay to eat two or
more times a week, King mackerel is a high mercury fish that the FDA
recommends avoiding.

The authors of the AHA advisory did not find that mercury had any
adverse effects on cardiovascular disease and concluded that the
heart-health benefits of eating fish twice a week outweigh any risks,
especially if you consume a variety of seafood. Rimm notes, however,
that they did not look at pregnant women or children in their review
of the research.

Consumer Reports recommends getting your omega-3s from low-mercury
fish. Fortunately, some of these are rich sources of omega-3s:
Atlantic mackerel, sardines, salmon (including canned), and trout.
“Although other low-mercury fish, such as catfish, flatfish and
sole, shrimp, and tilapia don’t supply as much omega-3s, they do
contain some,” Halloran says.

As for tuna—the most popular type of seafood next to
shrimp—Halloran notes that previous Consumer Reports analyses of
mercury levels in tuna suggest that pregnant women shouldn’t eat it
at all. Everyone else should opt for chunk light, which has one-third
of the mercury of albacore and about one-fifth of the mercury in sushi
tuna (such as bigeye), and not make tuna the only type of seafood they
eat.

Sally Wadyka is a freelance writer who contributes to Consumer
Reports, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Yoga Journal, and the
Food Network on topics such as health, nutrition, and wellness.

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