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Consumption of small fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids was linked to a decreased risk of non-fatal and deadly cardiovascular disease over 10 years, especially among healthy individuals at low risk.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has become a major cause of disease and death on a global scale. As a result, eating 1–2 meals centered on seafood each week is advised by the American Heart Association (AHA). Published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology, this cohort study examined the impact of overall fresh fish consumption and small fatty fish high in omega-3 fatty acids on CVD incidence and mortality across 10- and 20-year intervals. This study analyzed the seafood and fish intake, particularly small fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, of 2,020 healthy Greek residents using age- and gender-based sampling.

Baseline Characteristics
Around 9.6% ate more than 1 serving of small fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, and 32.7% consumed more than 2 servings of seafood. Males (54.7%), younger participants, and those with higher socioeconomic status  had a high total seafood intake and lower diabetes and hypercholesterolemia risks. Similar findings were observed for 20-year CVD mortality and 10-year incidence.

High Overall Seafood Consumption and the Risk of CVD

The occurrence of CVD was lower among those who consumed a lot of fish and seafood overall, with a 27% lower risk of having CVD after ten years and an 18% reduced risk after 20 years of monitoring.

Furthermore, high total seafood consumption had the greatest impact on women’s 10-year CVD incidence rate and those over 65, as well as hypertension. This significant impact on 10-year CVD incidence was particularly noticeable in males, those over 65 of age, and those with hypertension.

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High Overall Seafood Consumption and Mortality

In the study, individuals with a higher seafood intake had a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease-related mortality over a 10-year and 20-year period than those who consumed less.

The frequency of mortality was 1.7% versus 5.0% over 10 years and 9.0% versus 12.0% over 20 years, for high vs. low total seafood intake, respectively. Furthermore, women with hypertension experienced the greatest benefit.

A notable positive impact was observed in the context of 10-year mortality related to cardiovascular disease (CVD), especially in women and individuals aged 65 and above. However, the mortality rates were significantly lower in individuals who consumed high (4.3%) vs. low (1.1%) quantities of small fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

The  Connection Between Omega-3s and Decreased CVD Risk

Seafood consumption is associated with a decreased risk of developing and/or dying from cardiovascular disease (CVD). Public health initiatives should promote the consumption of seafood, particularly fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, to reduce CVD in the general population. Targeted public health interventions may be necessary for normotensive individuals with a low risk of adverse cardiovascular disease outcomes.

Critselis, E., Tsiampalis, T., Damigou, E., Georgousopoulou, E., Barkas, F., Chrysohoou, C., Skoumas, J., Pitsavos, C., Liberopoulos, E., Tsioufis, C., Sfikakis, P. P., & Panagiotakos, D. (2023). High fish intake rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces cardiovascular disease incidence in healthy adults: The ATTICA cohort study (2002-2022). Frontiers in Physiology, 14. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2023.1158140