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Heart-Healthy Eating: Fish


Topic Overview

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 as part of a heart-healthy diet

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:

  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Lower your cholesterol.
  • Reach and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Prevent or control diabetes.
  • Improve your overall health.

Heart diseases

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 abnormal heartbeats.

Try to eat omega-3 fatty acids in foods like fish rather than taking a supplement.

Stroke

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.

Fish safety

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

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