The Big Number: How much fish do I really need to eat to help my heart?
Want to avoid cardiovascular ailments — including heart disease, congestive heart failure and stroke — as you age? A good plan would be to make sure your weekly menu includes one to two servings a week — ideally 104 a year — of fish. That’s what the American Heart Association recommends in a just-released scientific advisory. The advice on the health benefits of fish consumption is based on an analysis of research done since the AHA issued its last such advisory in 2002. Specifically, says a panel of nutrition experts assembled by the association, people should eat non-fried, cold-water oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, sardines and lake trout.
These types of fish are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than seafood such as shrimp, scallops, tilapia and cod. They’re also good sources of protein and vitamins. Adding 3.5-ounce servings twice a week may also mean you’ll consume 104 fewer servings a year of foods that are less heart-healthy, such as meats, which tend to be higher in artery-clogging fats. If you’re worried about mercury, found to some degree in most seafood, the report’s authors note that the cardiovascular benefits of eating fish outweigh any risks — especially if you vary the types of fish in your diet.