If you're eating your way to better heart health by having fish once or twice a week, you should make sure it's baked or boiled, instead of fried, dried or salted.
Fish that is baked or boiled packs a bigger punch of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, according to a study from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. And for women especially, it's a good idea to cook the fish using a low-sodium soy sauce or tofu.
"It appears that boiling or baking fish with low-sodium soy sauce [shoyu] and tofu is beneficial, while eating fried, salted or dried fish is not. In fact, these methods of preparation may contribute to your risk," study author Lixin Meng said in a news release from the American Heart Association. "We did not directly compare boiled or baked fish versus fried fish, but one can tell from the [risk] ratios, boiled or baked fish is in the protective direction, but not fried fish."
The team followed 82,243 men and 103,884 women in Los Angeles County, California and Hawaii to assess the source, type, amount and frequency of dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids. The study participants included blacks, whites, Hispanics, Japanese and native Hawaiians who were between 45 to 75 years old and had no history of heart disease.
During the nearly 12 years of follow-up, there were 4,516 heart-related deaths among the participants.
Among men, those who ate the most omega-3 fatty acids (about 3.3 grams per day) had a 23 percent lower risk of cardiac death than those who ate only 0.8 grams per day. "Clearly, we are seeing that the higher the dietary omega-3 intake, the lower the risk of dying from heart disease among men," Meng explained.
Among women, the link between omega-3 fatty acids and a lower risk of cardiac death wasn't as apparent; however, the study found clear heart health benefits for women who consumed greater amounts of shoyu and tofu. "My guess is that, for women, eating omega-3s from shoyu and tofu that contain other active ingredients such as phytoestrogens might have a stronger cardioprotective effect than eating just omega- 3s," Meng said.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.
Source: Joykutty, Detroit
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