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Diabetes Health Center

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Eating Fish = Healthy Heart in Diabetes

Regular Fish Eaters Had Biggest Reductions in Heart Disease Risk


The women were divided into five categories according to how often they ate fish, with the lowest consumers eating fish less than once a month and the highest eating it five times a week or more. Compared with those who seldom ate fish, eating seafood one to three times a month was associated with a 30% reduction in risk. A risk reduction of 40% was seen in those eating fish once a week, and those who ate fish two to four times a week had a 36% reduction in risk. The biggest risk reduction --64% -- was seen in women who ate fish five times a week or more.

In this study, the more fish the women ate the more protected they were. But a similar Harvard study reported late last year found that eating as little as one serving of fish a month was as protective against strokes in men as eating it almost every day. That study also found all fish to be protective, and not just those high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and trout.

Lichtenstein says the many unanswered questions make it difficult to make recommendations about eating fish and heart health. While most people would probably be better off adding more fish to their diets, Lichtenstein says other lifestyle changes are probably more important for people at risk for heart disease. The top three, she says, are maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking, and exercising regularly.

"Even if it is true that omega-3 is protective it doesn't mean that dribbling fish oil over a hot fudge sundae makes it good for you," she says. "We know that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important, but that message often gets lost. If the only thing someone does to lower their risk is eating more fish, I'm not sure that they will be much better off."

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