Why Eating Fish Helps Your Heart

Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your eyes and brain. They also keep your heart healthy by helping to prevent heart disease. Doctors believe that eating two servings of fish per week can reduce your risk of a heart attack by up to 30%.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Your Heart

Fish are naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are very good for your heart. They lower your blood cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation in your body. Omega-3 fatty acids also lower your blood pressure and reduce your chances of blood clots. They decrease your risk of arrythmias and sudden cardiac arrest and can slow the growth of arterial plaque.

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week for optimum heart health. Eating two weekly servings of a fish that is naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids can decrease your chances of a heart attack by as much as one third.

Choosing Fish that are High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Eating fish twice a week can be great for your heart, but for the maximum benefit you should choose the fish that are highest in omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids. Choose some of the following fish for lunch or dinner twice a week:

  • Salmon
  • Herring
  • Lake Trout
  • Sardines
  • Albacore Tuna

Grilling or baking your fish is healthier for your heart than frying. You should season your fish with herbs and spices that are low in fat. Try lemon juice, marjoram, dill, oregano or rosemary.

Avoiding Fish that are High in Mercury

For most people, the health benefits of eating fish outweigh the risks of mercury poisoning. However, some fish are very high in mercury. Shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel are all fish that contain high levels of mercury. Albacore tuna contains higher levels of mercury than does canned light tuna, so be wary of it as well. Eat no more than six ounces of high-mercury fish per week. If possible, avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury altogether, and eat a wide variety of fish with lower mercury levels.

Many of the fish that are low in mercury are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon. Shrimp and pollock are also low in mercury. Make sure you eat a wide variety of fish for maximum benefit. Some types of fish, including catfish and tilapia, are low in omega-3 fatty acids but high in omega-6 fatty acids–the type of fatty acids found in eggs. While omega-6 fatty acids are good for you, eating too many of them can lead to increased risk of inflammatory disease.

Pregnant women, young children and nursing mothers should avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury and eat no more than twelve ounces of fish per week. They should eat no more than six ounces of canned light tuna each week, since tuna, while relatively low in mercury, still contains more mercury than many types of fish.

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