Fish Does Not Protect the Heart, Researchers Say
New Study in American Journal of Cardiology Challenges Belief that Fish Consumption Reduces Risk of Coronary Heart Disease
WASHINGTON—Consumers who think eating fish does their body good may want to think again. A new study in the May issue of the American Journal of Cardiology suggests that fish consumption does not improve heart health or prevent coronary heart disease. The supposed heart benefits associated with a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids from fish likely result from the convergence of higher fish intakes with overall healthier dietary patterns, rather than any specific benefit of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, according to the study, whose authors include health experts with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
The study is based on analysis of the Diabetic Control and Complications Trial database, which tracked nutritional data for 1,441 Americans over nine years. Researchers found that participants consuming the most omega-3 fatty acids from fish generally consume less saturated fat and more dietary fiber. Meanwhile, participants eating less fish but greater quantities of other meats consume more overall saturated fat and less fiber. This finding suggests that improved heart health, often attributed to fish consumption, actually results from a generally healthier dietary pattern, including higher intakes of fiber and lower intakes of saturated fat, rather than the fish itself. David Cundiff, M.D., Amy Lanou, Ph.D., and Claudio Nigg, Ph.D. analyzed the dataset and authored the American Journal of Cardiology study.
“Fish is not a boon for good health as consumers are often led to believe,” says study coauthor Amy Joy Lanou, Ph.D., a senior nutrition scientist with PCRM and assistant professor of health and wellness at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. “Fish has a questionable role in heart-disease prevention and contains surprisingly high levels of mercury and other toxins, as well as fat and cholesterol, making it a poor dietary choice. Consumers have good reason to steer clear of fish.”
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.
Amy Lanou, Ph.D.
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