By John Salak –
There is something fishy about the breaking research out of McMaster University. It reports that chowing down twice weekly on fish can help ward off cardiovascular disease, especially among high-risk individuals.
The key to getting these benefits is choosing fish high is omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower the risk incidents like heart attacks and strokes by almost 20 percent among vulnerable individuals.
The McMaster’s team, however, stressed that these individuals needed to consume at least two portions of omega-rich fish, such as trout, salmon, mackerel or tuna, twice a week for an extended period.
“There is a significant protective benefit of fish consumption in people with cardiovascular disease,” reported Andrew Mente, the study’s co-author and an associate professor at McMaster.
Yet not everyone appears to get a boost from these fish. He noted that those without any existing problems didn’t benefit at all from the eating these fish.
“This study has important implications for guidelines on fish intake globally. It indicates that increasing fish consumption and particularly oily fish in vascular patients may produce a modest cardiovascular benefit,” Mente said, adding even low-risk individuals enjoy some benefits from omega-3 fish.
The McMaster results were generated by studying data collected from four studies worldwide that covered almost 200,000 people, including more than 50,000 individuals suffering with cardiovascular issues.
“This is by far the most diverse study of fish intake and health outcomes in the world and the only one with sufficient numbers with representation from high, middle and low income countries from all inhabited continents of the world,” explained Dr. Salim Yusuf, the study’s other co-author.
McMaster wasn’t the only university examining the impact of consuming omega-3 fatty oils. The University of Georgia, in fact, reports that consuming related fish oil supplements apparently only benefits individuals if they have a particular genetic makeup. Those without the right genetic background might actually be worse off for taking these supplements.
The university’s finding come in the face of the burgeoning billion-dollar fish oil supplement industry. Its work centered on supplements that contain omega-3 fatty acids and its effect on triglycerides, which is a biomarker for cardiovascular disease
“We’ve known for a few decades that a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood is associated with a lower risk of heart disease,” reported Kaiziong Ye, assistant professor of genetics at the university. “What we found is that fish oil supplementation is not good for everyone; it depends on your genotype. If you have a specific genetic background, then fish oil supplementation will help lower your triglycerides. But if you do not have that right genotype, taking a fish oil supplement actually increases your triglycerides.”
The study was based on data collected from 70,000 individuals, who were divided into groups taking fish oil supplements and those who weren’t. Researchers then performed a genome-wide scan to determine which genetic variants seems to benefit from the fish oil and those that didn’t.
The researchers noted that their findings may offer new insights on previous trials, most of which found that fish oil provides no benefit in preventing cardiovascular disease.
“One possible explanation is that those clinical trials didn’t consider the genotypes of the participants,” Ye said. Ultimately, the university’s work could have far-reaching implications.
“Personalizing and optimizing fish oil supplementation recommendations based on a person’s unique genetic composition can improve our understanding of nutrition and lead to significant improvements in human health and well-being,” he stressed.