Cardiovascular disease isn’t generally much of a worry for young women, but the amount of fish they eat growing up appears to have a powerful role in keeping their hearts healthy. A new study from Denmark shows that women of childbearing age (between 15-49) who rarely or never ate fish had 50 percent more cardiovascular problems over an eight-year study period than those who ate fish regularly. And when the missing fish meal was high in omega-3 fatty acids, the risk was 90 percent higher among the women who rarely or never ate fish.
The researchers, from Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, surveyed some 49,000 women via phone interviews or food frequency questionnaires about their fish consumption, lifestyle, and family history. Over the eight years on which data was gathered, 577 of the women developed cardiovascular problems (five died) although they had no prior diagnosis of heart disease. Hospital records showed that admission for cardiovascular disease was much more common among women whose diets didn’t include fish. And the researchers found that over a 30-week period women who never ate fish had a risk of cardiovascular disease that was three times as high as those who ate fish weekly.
The investigators said that the greatest benefits come from eating fish as a main meal at least twice a week. The fish most commonly consumed by the women in the study were cod, salmon, herring and mackerel.