CNN Food and Health

Study: Seafood combats cardiac arrest

Eugenia Halsey

November 1, 1995
Web posted at: 3:30 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey

JAMA cover

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Good news for seafood lovers: there's new evidence that seafood is good for your heart, and just a little seafood may go a long way. According to a new study, people who ate just one serving of fish a week dramatically reduced their chances of cardiac arrest. A study on the subject involving more than 800 people in the Seattle area was published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

"[The test subjects] had an approximately 50 percent reduction in their risk of cardiac arrest, compared to persons who didn't eat any seafood," said Dr. David Siscovick of the University of Washington.

Researchers at the University of Washington compared the diets and blood of the people in the study and found that those who ate moderate amounts of seafood rich in what are called Omega-3 fatty acids had a 50 percent to 70 percent reduction in their risk of a cardiac arrest compared with those who ate little or no seafood.

raw salmon

Salmon, albacore tuna, herring, mackerel, sea bass, oysters, and mussels are all seafoods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.


Cardiac arrest is a condition in which the heart suddenly stops pumping. It's not clear how Omega-3 fatty acids protect the heart. They may make the blood less likely to clot and block the blood flow to the heart, or they may reduce the irregular electrical rhythms of the heart that result in cardiac arrest.

Researchers recommend that people include the above types of fish in their diet once or twice a week. fish-oil pill However, the researchers' findings do not suggest that eating more seafood than that is beneficial. In fact, a recent Harvard study found that those who ate fish at least six times a week were no less likely to suffer a heart attack than those who ate fish only a couple of times a month. "We really didn't see that wolfing it down made a great benefit," said Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Most health experts also do not recommend taking fish oil pills because most of the evidence for fish's benefits come from studies on fish in the diet, not pills. In addition, the pills may have side effects.

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