By now, we should have all been aware that eating fish has certain health benefits. But how much should you eat for the fatty acids and nutrients to actually help your health? Scientists seem to have found an answer. According to a symposium, eating fish twice a week helps protect the heart.
This week, in Dublin, Ireland, the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation held a symposium called “A fish a day keeps the doctor away”. During the meeting, scientists and experts talked about the benefits of eating fish in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
During the symposium, experts debated whether or not the unsaturated omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA can really benefit the heart in the form of supplements. EPA stands for eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA for docosahexaenoic acid, two omega 3 fatty acids found in mackerel, herring, trout, salmon and sardines.
Nutritionist and metabolic biochemist Philip Calder said that health professionals should educate “the public about the beneficial effects of including fish in their diets”, given that “omega 3 fatty acids are really important to human health, whether you’re talking about CVD, brain or immune health”.
During the meeting, the European Guidelines on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Clinical Practice have been released. The guidelines recommend eating fish twice a week to protect the heart. Out of these two fish meals a week, one of them should be oily fish (salmon, trout, sardines, herring, mackerel).
On the subject of omega 3 oil supplements, scientists reached the conclusion that these do carry some benefits, at least for the people that aren’t that keen on eating fish. For them, Philip Calder recommended to “take 1g of omega-3 a day to achieve any beneficial effects” but given the large supply of such supplements on the market, it’s difficult to say if people do receive the right concentration.
However, don’t imagine omega 3 oil supplements will be enough. Apart from the fact that the supplements don’t contain the other nutrients in fish, such as vitamin D, selenium and iodine, to keep your heart at ease you need to work harder. Daan Kromhout, expert with Wageningen University, said: “fish, it needs to be remembered, don’t provide a total panacea against cardiovascular disease. As well as consuming fish, people need to eat healthy diets, not smoke and be physically active”.