Eating certain fish may have big benefits for people with heart disease

Eating certain types of fish twice a week may help protect high-risk individuals from developing heart disease, according to a new international analysis. Key to the benefit is the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in these types of fish, which were linked to a drastic decrease in stroke and heart attack risk in people who consumed them at least twice a week.

The new study was led by researchers with McMaster University; they analyzed multiple big studies that collectively comprised participants from dozens of countries. Based on the data, the researchers found that eating oily fish like salmon, trout, tuna, sardines, and similar may offer protective benefits when it comes to heart health.

High-risk individuals, such as people who have had a stroke or heart attack, may reduce their odds of developing cardiovascular disease by eating two servings of fatty fish every week. However, the study didn't find the same level of benefit for people who didn't fall in the high-risk group — though that doesn't mean healthy individuals won't get some benefit from eating more oily fish.

The researchers note 'modest protection' associated with two servings of fish weekly in low-risk people. The findings are based on data from around 192,000 people, around 52,000 of whom had cardiovascular disease.

Though this isn't the first study to evaluate fish consumption and heart health benefits, the researchers note that their work is the first of its kind to include data on people from all five continents, making it uniquely diverse among research that often focuses on only a handful of countries.