Fish is a media darling lately, as two research reports tout its benefits. One says it blocks dangerous heart rhythms and the other claims it’s beneficial for diabetic women.
The first study, a review article in the May 27 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, found that eating oily fish such as salmon, tuna or bluefish at least twice a week can prevent sudden cardiac death because fatty acids in the fish block dangerous irregular heart rhythms.
“Animal experiments show that fatty acids from n-3 fish oils are stored in the cell membranes of heart cells and can prevent sudden cardiac death or fatal arrhythmias [irregular heart rhythms],” says review author Alexander Leaf, MD, Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine Emeritus, Harvard Medical School in Boston. He says that fresh or frozen fish are the best choices but canned tuna can be used if it is packed in water. “Tuna packed in oil is not a good choice because the extra oil will extract the beneficial n-3 oil from the fish,” he says.
In the second study, published in the April 1 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, researchers reported that eating fish regularly reduced the risk of heart disease in diabetic women by as much as 64 percent.
“Previous studies have found that fish consumption reduces risk of heart disease in a largely healthy population,” says Frank B. Hu, MD, lead author and associate professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston. “This is the first study to look at the relationship among diabetic patients, who have very high risk of heart disease.”