McMaster University researchers found that consuming this healthy fat is important for those with heart disease or individuals who have experienced a stroke.

By Nashia Baker
March 09, 2021
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Researchers have long said that regularly eating fruits and vegetables is one simple way to boost your overall wellness. But those aren't the only foods to eat for better health. McMaster University researchers recently published a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine that says eating fish each week is another smart diet choice, especially if you're at risk for cardiovascular disease. The reason? Because fish is loaded with beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. "There is a significant protective benefit of fish consumption in people with cardiovascular disease," said lead co-author Andrew Mente, an associate professor of research methods, evidence, and impact at McMaster University and a principal investigator at the Population Health Research Institute.

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Credit: Bryan Gardner

The team of researchers monitored about 192,000 people over the course of four studies, and this included 52,000 people living with cardiovascular disease. They noted that people who ate oily fish rich in omega-3 just twice every week had their risks of heart attack or stroke lessened by one-sixth when compared to people who didn't include this protein in their meals. While low-risk cardiovascular disease individuals can benefit from eating fish filled with omega-3, the team reported that the highest benefits were truly with higher-risk people.

"This study has important implications for guidelines on fish intake globally," added Mente. "It indicates that increasing fish consumption and particularly oily fish in vascular patients may produce a modest cardiovascular benefit."

These findings are also impactful because previous research only highlighted information from North America, Europe, China, and Japan instead of other areas in the world. "This is by far the most diverse study of fish intake and health outcomes in the world and the only one with sufficient numbers with representation from high, middle, and low income countries from all inhabited continents of the world," said study co-lead Dr. Salim Yusuf, a professor of medicine at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and executive director of the PHRI.

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