Why Oily Fish should be your Heart’s Best Friend

Eating more fish has been shown to reduce your chance of dying of a heart attack by over a third, but just why is it so good at preventing life-threatening diseases?

oily fish

With so many of us conscious of our heart’s health and how we can reduce the chance of a heart attack, it’s amazing that one of the simplest solutions is actually one of the most effective. Eating more fish has been shown to reduce your chance of dying of a heart attack by over a third, meaning oily fish should be your heart’s best friend. But just why is fish so good at preventing life-threatening diseases?

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 fatty acids are the key nutrient in fish that make them just so good at preserving heart health. They are considered to be anti inflammatories, meaning that when incorporated into the diet, they reduce inflammation throughout the whole body, from skin flare ups to arthritis and in this case, the blood vessels.

By reducing inflammation, blood flow is less constricted through blood vessels, reducing the risk of clotting and ensuring that enough oxygen is carried to the brain and other vital organs of the body.

How much fish do we need to eat?

Levels of omega 3 fatty acids vary from species to species. Salmon and herring are generally considered to have the highest levels, but tuna, mackerel and cod are also good sources. Two or three servings a week of these fish has been shown to be enough to greatly reduce the chance of heart disease or sudden cardiac arrest, as well as strokes and aneurisms.

Other ways to harness the heart-protecting powers of fish

Incorporating fish into your diet is the best way to promote a healthy heart, but you can also achieve some of the benefits from fish oil supplements. Fish oil, or cod liver oil has been used for decades as a way of preserving health, improving the health of both the heart and brain by boosting blood flow around the body. Fish oil is commonly found in capsules, which can be taken once a day and keep your levels of omega 3 fatty acids topped up if you don’t always have the opportunity to prepare a meal using fish.

What to avoid when eating fish for a healthy heart

While most kinds of fish contain at least low levels of omega 3 fatty acids, some, such as the catfish contain high levels of unhealthy fatty acids, which may counteract the effects of omega 3 when eaten in high quantities. Remember also to prepare your fish in healthy ways- broiling or baking is best, so leave the battered fish and chips as an occasional treat!

When buying fish, it is also wise to consider its source. Scientists have speculated that fish bred in farms may contain high levels of antibiotics or other pesticides which can impact the health of the consumer, so it is worth doing your research before buying cheaper fish which haven’t been caught in the wild.

 Image sourced: Martino’s doodles

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