Eating fish, rich in omega 3 fatty acids like cod, salmon, herring, and mackerel, may help reduce heart disease risk in young women, a new study has suggested.
In the first population-based study in women of childbearing age, those who rarely or never ate fish had 50 percent more cardiovascular problems over eight years than those who ate fish regularly.
Compared to women who ate fish high in omega-3 weekly, the risk was 90 percent higher for those who rarely or never ate fish.
Researchers used a Danish nationwide population based pregnancy cohort to examine whether or not eating more fish might reduce cardiovascular disease risk in the young women.
About 49,000 women, 15-49 years old, median age of just under 30 years in early pregnancy – were interviewed by telephone or answered food frequency questionnaires about how much, what types and how often they ate fish, as well as lifestyle and family history questions.
The study revealed the even women who ate fish only a couple of times a month benefitted.
“Women who eat fish should find the results encouraging, but it is important to emphasize that to obtain the greatest benefit from fish and fish oils, women should follow the dietary recommendations to eat fish as a main meal at least twice a week,” said Marin Strom, lead researcher.
The most common fish consumed by women in the study were cod, salmon, herring, and mackerel.
“Our study shows that for younger women, eating fish is very important for overall health, and even though we found cardio-protective effects at relatively modest dietary levels, higher levels may yield additional benefits,” she said.
Researchers recorded 577 cardiovascular events during the eight-year period, including five cardiovascular deaths in women without any prior diagnosis of the disease. In all, 328 events were due to hypertensive disease, 146 from cerebrovascular disease, and 103 from ischemic heart disease.
Inpatient and outpatient admission for cardiovascular disease was much more common among women who reported eating little or no fish. In three different assessments over a 30-week period, women who never ate fish had a three-fold higher disease risk compared to women who ate fish every week.
The study has been published in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.