As part of a healthy diet, eat at least two servings of fish each week. Oily fish, which contain
omega-3 fatty acids, are best. These fish include salmon,
mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines.1
If you cannot eat fish, you can also get omega-3 fats from omega-3 eggs, walnuts, flax seeds, and canola oil.
Fish is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet is not just for people who have existing health problems. It is good for all healthy adults and children older than age 2. Learning heart-healthy eating habits now can help prevent problems in years to come. Eating a heart-healthy diet can help you to:
Eating fish may help lower your risk of coronary artery disease.
In people who have heart problems, omega-3 fatty acids may help lower
their risk of death.
Omega-3 fatty acids also lower the risk of sudden cardiac death and
Try to eat omega-3 fatty acids in foods like fish rather than taking a supplement.
Eating more than two servings of fish a week can lower your risk for stroke or TIA. Oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and herring) lowers your risk more than other types of fish.2
Taking a fish-oil or omega-3 fatty acid supplement does not give you the same protection against stroke or TIA.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that women who may become
pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should not eat shark, swordfish,
king mackerel, or tilefish, because these fish have higher mercury
concentrations. But for middle-aged and older people, the protection fish offer
the heart outweighs the risks of eating these fish. Eating a variety of fish
may reduce the amount of mercury you eat.3, 4
American Heart Association (2006). Diet and lifestyle
recommendations revision 2006. Circulation, 114(1):
82–96. [Erratum in Circulation, 114(1): e27.]
Chowdhury R, et al. (2012). Association between fish consumption, long chain omega 3 fatty acids, and risk of cerebrovascular disease: Systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. Published online October 30, 2012 (doi:10.1136/bmj.e6698).
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2004). What you
need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish: 2004 EPA and FDA advice for
women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers, young
children. Available online:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2011). Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish. Available online: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-SpecificInformation/Seafood/FoodbornePathogensContaminants/Methylmercury/ucm115644.htm.
February 5, 2013
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
& Colleen Gobert, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
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