Heart disease affects millions of Americans, young and old. About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, and it is a creeping problem for adolescents! That's because more than one in three Americans - and nearly one in six kids ages 2 to 19 - have obesity. Only 20% of adolescents and 23% of adults meet the recommended levels of physical activity and strength building. Then there's diabetes - which is extremely hard on the heart. Not only do 32 million U.S. adults have Type 2 diabetes, but diabetes rates for kids ages 10 to 19 have gone up dramatically.
Well, a new study reveals how eating omega-3 oily fish (salmon, sea trout, anchovies, herring and sardines) should be part of your family's "getting heart healthier" campaign this spring. And it's especially important if you or your loved ones already have elevated cholesterol and triglycerides, atherosclerosis, have had a heart attack or other forms of heart disease, are overweight or obese, or have diabetes.
The study in JAMA Internal Medicine pooled data from four international studies of 191,558 people to figure out the association between fish consumption (and omega-3 fatty acids) and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and death from CVD. They found that for folks who already have CVD, eating two to four servings of fatty fish a week significantly reduced their risk of further heart woes and CVD-related death. And an earlier analysis of 20 studies suggests eating one to two 3-ounce servings of fatty fish a week reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 36 %. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two to three 4-ounce servings a week for the most wide-ranging health benefits. So let's go fishing ...
- Salmon, sliced. These days you can buy salmon that is farm-raised, wild caught, Atlantic, Pacific, chinook (king), coho, sockeye and steelhead (ocean trout). Some are extra fatty (king) or extra lean (sockeye), but all deliver a great dose of omega-3s that quell inflammation and protect your heart. Compared with omega-3 DHA supplements, eating fish also delivers a good dose of protein, selenium, B12 and vitamin D.
- Farm versus wild caught? According to the Cleveland Clinic, a small fillet of wild salmon has 131 fewer calories and half the fat content as the same amount of farmed salmon. Farmed salmon can have slightly more omega-3 fatty acids, but it also has 20% more saturated fat. Persistent organic pollutants are also a concern in farmed fish; they're associated with an increased risk of chronic disease such as diabetes. Levels of one POP, called PCB, are five to 10 times higher in farmed fish than in wild caught. However wild Pacific salmon is thought to contain more cancer-causing chemicals than farmed Atlantic salmon. As for antibiotic use: You can get farmed salmon that is antibiotic-free, but you have to ask and your fishmonger has to know.
- Bottom line: Mix it up. Eat various varieties from various sources. The benefits will far outweigh the risks.
There are other fish in the sea. If you don't enjoy eating salmon, you can get the heart-protective benefits from other types of fish. The CDC says you can enjoy two to three servings a week of sardines, anchovies, herring, freshwater trout and flounder. Canned light tuna is also a heart-friendly, low-mercury fish.
How you cook it matters. Americans love fried food. They devour fried butter at the Iowa State Fair, and Texans have figured out how to make a fried, beer-filled ravioli. Fried fish is just as foolish. Turns out seven or more servings of fried fish a week ups the risk of heart-related death by 17% - the fry-fat knocks out the healthy-fat benefits in the fish. The best ways to cook fish are to broil, steam, saute, poach or stew it. So add some fish to your shopping list this week, and make it a permanent part of your family's heart-smart diet.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.