Eat Fish—but Not Too Much—to Reduce Your Risk of A-Fib
Surprising new research confirms that eating fatty fish twice a week can significantly reduce your risk of developing the heartbeat anomaly known as atrial fibrillation (AF). That was expected. Omega-3 fatty acids in cold water fish have been shown repeatedly to decrease inflammation and lower a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, depression and a number of other conditions.
But eating too much fish can actually raise your risk of AF. And therein lies the surprise. Researchers were at a loss to explain the effect, but noted that people who had the highest consumption of fish experienced about a 3% increase in the risk of developing the heartbeat anomaly. AF is a common form of cardiac arrhythmia, in which the heart beats irregularly. While many people live with the condition symptom free, it increases the risk of stroke, sometimes dramatically. Chronic AF raises the risk of death slightly.
In contrast to the slightly elevated risk of AF from eating fish too often, people with moderate intakes enjoyed a 13% lower risk of AF than people with the lowest intakes of omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish. The take-away message appears to be a familiar sentiment, expressed in various ways down through the centuries, including this version, by 17th century writer, Joseph Hall: “Moderation is the silken string running through the pearl chain of all virtues.”
European Society of Cardiology (ESC) (2013, June 24). U-shaped curve revealed for association between fish consumption and atrial fibrillation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 24, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/06/130624104210.htm