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Eating Fish Slows Heart Rate

An article in Circulation showed that eating fish slows your heart rate. The people who ate fish benefitted from a drop in their blood triglycerides and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure; and a rise in their blood omega-3s and the good HDL cholesterol. The authors of this study were surprised with their results. Since an elevated heart rate is associated with increased risk of sudden death, the lower heart rate in fish eaters could explain the lower risk of sudden death among people who eat fish.

You don't have to eat fish to get the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, since they are also found in many nuts, whole grains, beans and seeds such as flax seed. The omega-3 fatty acids in seeds such as whole grains may be even more important in maintaining your health than the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. Virtually every plant source of omega-3's also contains vitamin E, while fish oils are low in vitamin E. All omega-3's break down very quickly when exposed to oxygen in your body, and vitamin E stabilizes them so they are more effective.

Omega-3s found in fish oils are mostly long chain fatty acids. Omega-3s in plants, particularly seeds, contain much shorter chains and are weaker than the omega-3s found in fish. However, the shorter chain omega-3s, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in leafy greens and seeds are converted to the long chain fatty acids in the human body. To meet your needs for short chain omega-3 fatty acids found in plants, eat lots of green leafy vegetables, and seeds such as flaxseed, whole grains, beans and nuts. If you do not eat nuts, beans, whole grains and other seeds, you probably should eat fish.

Fish consumption is associated with lower heart rates. Circulation, 2003, Vol 108, Iss 7, pp 820-825. J Dallongeville, J Yarnell, P Ducimetiere, D Arveiler, J Ferrieres, M Montaye, G Luc, A Evans, A Bingham, B Hass, JB Ruidavets, P Amouyel. Dallongeville J, Inst Pasteur, INSERM, U508, 1 Rue Pr Calmette, F-59019 Lille, FRANCE

Checked 12/13/07

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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