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The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are good for your heart. Find out why the heart-healthy benefits of eating fish usually outweigh any risks.
If you're worried about heart disease, eating one to two servings of fish a week could reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack.
For many years, the American Heart Association has recommended that people eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week. Doctors have long believed that the unsaturated fats in fish, called omega-3 fatty acids, are the nutrients that reduce the risk of dying of heart disease. However, more recent research suggests that other nutrients in fish or a combination of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients in fish may actually be responsible for the health benefits from fish.
Some people are concerned that mercury or other contaminants in fish may outweigh its heart-healthy benefits. However, when it comes to a healthier heart, the benefits of eating fish usually outweigh the possible risks of exposure to contaminants. Find out how to balance these concerns with adding a healthy amount of fish to your diet.
What are omega-3 fatty acids, and why are they good for your heart?
Fish contain unsaturated fatty acids, which, when substituted for saturated fatty acids such as those in meat, may lower your cholesterol. But the main beneficial nutrient appears to be omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk, reduce irregular heartbeats, and in children may improve learning ability. Eating at least one to two servings a week of fish, particularly fish that's rich in omega-3 fatty acids, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly sudden cardiac death.
Does it matter what kind of fish you eat?
Fatty fish, such as salmon, lake trout, herring, sardines and tuna, contain the most omega-3 fatty acids and therefore the most benefit, but many types of seafood contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
Are there any kinds of fish you should avoid?
Some fish, such as tilapia and catfish, don't appear to be as heart healthy because they contain higher levels of unhealthy fatty acids. Keep in mind that any fish can be unhealthy depending on how it's prepared. For example, broiling or baking fish is a healthier option than is deep-frying.
Some researchers are concerned about eating fish produced on farms as opposed to wild-caught fish. Researchers think antibiotics, pesticides and other chemicals used in raising farmed fish may cause harmful effects to people who eat the fish.
How much fish should you eat?
For adults, at least two servings of omega-3-rich fish a week are recommended. A serving size is 3.5 ounces (99 grams), or about the size of a deck of cards. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant and young children should limit the amount of fish they eat because they're most susceptible to the potential effects of toxins in fish.
The risk of getting too much mercury or other contaminants from fish is generally outweighed by the health benefits that omega-3 fatty acids have. The main types of toxins in fish are mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The amount of toxins depends on the type of fish and where it's caught.
Mercury occurs naturally in small amounts in the environment. But industrial pollution can produce mercury that accumulates in lakes, rivers and oceans, which turns up in the food fish eat. When fish eat this food, mercury builds up in the bodies of the fish.
Large fish that are higher in the food chain ? such as shark, tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel ? tend to have higher levels of mercury than do smaller fish. Larger fish eat the smaller fish, gaining higher concentrations of the toxin. The longer a fish lives, the larger it grows and the more mercury it can collect.
Pay attention to the type of fish you eat, how much you eat and other information such as state advisories. Each state issues advisories regarding the safe amount of locally caught fish that can be consumed.
Should anyone avoid eating fish because of the concerns over mercury or other contaminants?
If you eat enough fish containing mercury, the toxin can accumulate in your body. It can take as long as a year or more for your body to remove these toxins. Mercury is particularly harmful to the development of the brain and nervous system of unborn children and young children. For most adults, however, it's unlikely that mercury would cause any health concerns.
Still, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that these groups limit the amount of fish they eat:
Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant
Pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers and children can still get the heart-healthy benefits of fish by eating fish that's typically low in mercury, such as salmon, and limiting the amount they eat to:
No more than 12 ounces (340 grams) of fish in total a week
No more than 6 ounces (170 grams) of canned tuna a week
No amount of any fish that's typically high in mercury (shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish)
Are there any other concerns related to eating fish?
Several recent studies have linked high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood to an increased risk of prostate cancer. But, these studies weren't conclusive, and more research needs to be done to confirm this link. Talk with your doctor about what this potential risk might mean to you.
Can you get the same heart-health benefits by eating other foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, or by taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements?
Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients appears to provide more heart-healthy benefits than does using supplements. Other non fish food options that do contain some omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, soybeans and soybean oil. However, similar to supplements, the evidence of heart-healthy benefits from eating these foods isn't as strong as it is from eating fish.
I had some breathing problem and feeling some weight on my chest and some times feeling pinching on heart .I had asthama
I have suffering from uric acid levels above 8. So l am suffering from some pains especially In chest place give me some suggestions to me which type of food I taken.
I am facing the problem of high blood pressure and also having gas problem and I has taken medicines since three month so why I feel like tired sometime?
There are some diseases which a person can get affected by due to no fault of theirs, at all. And then, there are lifestyle diseases for which a person is solely responsible. So what can be done in order to fight lifestyle diseases like hypertension and diabetes, which can cause more than a fair amount of trouble?
The most important thing to keep in mind when an individual is battling a lifestyle disease is the diet of the person. Even for someone who has not had the misfortune of being affected by such a disease, the general level of health has a lot to do with what is eaten and drunk. One of the first things one should do is to eliminate the unhealthy fats (also known as saturated fats and trans-fats) that may be a part of one’s diet and replace them with more healthy fats. For instance, chips and other oily food need to be replaced with unsaturated fats. Omega 3 fatty acids are also good for the body, if consumed in a reasonable quantity. One of the best sources for Omega 3 is fish.
One of the ways to determine if a person is at risk is by checking if the waist size of an individual is larger than what it should be. In the case of men, if the waist size is more than 40 inches, it means he may be at significant risk. On the other hand, when it comes to women, the waist size should not exceed 35 inches.
A lot of people do try and eat food which is more nutritious. While this is a very good and recommended practice, the pitfall comes by way of not keeping track of what is eaten. So, it is always a good idea to keep a food diary. Not only does this increase the chances of a person sticking to a beneficial diet, but also it provides a record, which can be checked to measure the intake of salt, sugar and fat. This is important since salt often becomes a major cause leading to lifestyle diseases. So, there should be no added salt to meals once they are prepared. Instead of using salt, herbs can add a wonderful flavour to your meals. Similarly, excess consumption of sugar or fat is also not beneficial in the long run.