Fish Consumption and Cardiovascular Diseases

Fish Consumption and Cardiovascular Diseases
The most important thing in life is to be able to enjoy every moment with maximum health, well-being, and happiness.

Nowadays, an unavoidable fact is that the main causes of mortality and morbidity are preventable! In other words, they are related to lifestyle.

According to the report “Portrait of Health 2018” by the Ministry of Health (Lisbon, 2018 ISBN 978-989-99480-1-3), cardiovascular brain diseases were responsible for about 30% of deaths in Portugal, followed by oncological diseases.

These are considered the main risk factors for cardiovascular brain diseases in Portugal in Portuguese aged between 25 and 74:

- Arterial hypertension, that affects 36% of this populational group;
- Hypercholesterolemia, that affects 63,3% of this group;
- Diabetes in 10% of this group, especially men and older age groups – 23,8% of individuals between 65 and 74 years old;
- Obesity in 28,7% of the adult population, mainly in women (32,1%).
Therefore, we can verify from the 4 points listed that our lifestyle, which includes poor eating habits, is directly related to the main risk factors for cardiovascular brain diseases.

But what impact can fish consumption have on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases?

According to a recent systematic review and meta-analysis published in the scientific journal Nutrients, higher fish consumption is significantly associated with lower mortality from coronary heart disease. This study shows that the incidence and mortality of “heart attack” were reduced by 4% by increasing fish consumption in 20 g per day (Nutrients 2020, 12(8), 2278).

Another meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies showed a statistically significant dose-response between fish consumption and heart attacks: the risk of a heart attack is reduced in 2-12% by increasing fish consumption between 100-700 g per week (J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2019 Mar; 28(3):604-611).
In nutritional terms, fish and shellfish stand out for their richness in nutrients that protect the heart such as omega-3 fatty acids, but also vitamin D, riboflavin, iodine, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron. Together, these nutrients make fish and shellfish allies of the circulatory system, preventing its deterioration throughout life.  

Knowing that we are a country “planted by the sea” with one of the highest fish consumption rates in Europe, do we have any benefits? 

The answer is yes, and this benefit would be even greater if fish consumption was daily! This is shown by a study published on December 7th, 2021 in the British Journal of Nutrition, carried out by a group of Portuguese researchers from the Institute of Public Health (University of Porto) together with IPMA, INSA and ASAE. In this study, it was shown that 11 450 Disability-adjusted life years (DALY) per year could be prevented if Portuguese fish consumption became daily!

In pregnant women, it would be more 1398 DALY’s due to the increased risk in fetal neurodevelopment. Thus, this Portuguese research group is peremptory in stating that the recommended frequency for consumption of fish should be 7 times a week, instead of 3 times a week. For pregnant women, this recommendation is accompanied by the necessary clarifications on the main sources of methylmercury (Br J Nutr. 2021 Dec 7;1-14). 

It is clear that through the daily consumption of fish we can live longer! Especially if we consume quality fish like the Comur canned fish! Small and surface fish are little contaminated by toxic metals, such as sardines, horse mackerel and mackerel. Include them in your daily diet, knowing that you will add pleasure, quality and years of life to your plate!
Dietitian Catarina Cachão Bragadeste, n.º 0402N | A Dietitian's Daily Blog®
Mar 2020 | Portugal 2020
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