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Eating more fish could reel in heart disease risks, latest meta-analysis shows

In a recent study published within the journal Nutrients, researchers performed a meta-analysis to find out the association between fish consumption and heart problems (CVD) risk.

The Importance of Weight loss plan in Cardiovascular Health

Studies show that unhealthy dietary habits and sedentary lifestyles contribute to the high mortality rates of heart problems worldwide. Studies have reported that consuming fish can significantly reduce heart problems incidence and associated mortality. Nonetheless, further research, including more meta-analyses, is required to grasp the consequences of fish type and cooking methods on various CVDs and inform current nutrition guidelines.

Study: Fish Intake in Relation to Fatal and Non-Fatal Cardiovascular Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-Evaluation of Cohort Studies. Image Credit: Created with the help of DALL·E 3

Study Design

In the current meta-analysis, researchers evaluated the impact of fish intake on CVD outcomes.

The PubMed (MEDLINE), CINAHL, Cochrane, and Embase databases were looked for observational studies with prospective study designs published in English in peer-reviewed scientific journals between January 1, 2012, and March 31, 2023. Among the many included studies, healthy adults comprised the sample population, fish intake was the exposure, risk estimates were ascertained for comparing the consequences of high versus low fish consumption, and CVD risk and related mortality was the consequence.

As well as, the references to the included studies were screened to discover additional studies. Systematic reviews, meta-analyses, patents, reports, posters, theses, letters, conference presentations, seminar papers, and opinion papers were excluded. Two researchers independently performed study selection, and discrepancies were resolved by discussion or consultation with a 3rd researcher. Bias risks were evaluated using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS).

Using the random effects approach, the researchers synthesized data from multivariate-adjusted relative risk (RR) values of high versus low fish consumption categories concerning heart problems incidence and associated deaths. Non-linear-type meta-regressions were applied to find out the connection curve between fish consumption and heart problems risk.

Further, sensitivity assessments were performed, excluding a study every time and stratifying by the varieties of cardiovascular outcomes, fish consumed, and cooking methods. Study heterogeneity was assessed based on the I2 values, and publication bias was evaluated using the Egger test.

What the Numbers Say: Results

Of two,413 records initially identified, 2,348 were eliminated after the title-abstract screening. Because of this, 65 studies remained, of which 18 eligible studies were analyzed, conducted within the Netherlands, the USA (US), Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, Japan, and China. The median values for participant age, male proportion, sample size, and follow-up durations were 56 years, 45%, and 36,713 individuals and 12 years, respectively.

The median counts of life-threatening and non-life-threatening (combined), non-fatal, and fatal CVD events were 1,865 events, 1,532 events, and 1,135 events, respectively. Probably the most incessantly documented cardiovascular diseases were myocardial infarction (median of 1,123 cases), stroke (median of 674 cases), and coronary heart disease (median of 307 cases). A median NOS rating of seven was obtained, indicating that the chosen studies were top quality. Nonetheless, a medium-large heterogeneity was observed within the included studies (I2 of 72%).

The meta-analysis analyzed 78,805 heart problems events in a cumulative population of 1,442,407 individuals over 18,926,486.0 cumulative individual years. High versus low fish intake was linked to an eight percent reduced heart problems risk (RR of 0.9). The meta-regression evaluation indicated that fifty grams of fish consumed day by day significantly reduced the danger of life-threatening and non-life-threatening cardiovascular diseases by nine percent (RR, 0.9), denoted by a monotonically decreasing S-shaped curve.

Likewise, consuming two to a few 150 gram-portions of fish weekly reduced heart problems risk by eight percent (RR, 0.9), and consuming a full-sized fish portion day by day could lower heart problems risk by ≤30%. Sensitivity analyses yielded similar findings, indicating the robustness of the first results, which had no publication bias.

Specifics: Fatty Fish vs. Fried Fish

High fatty fish intake significantly reduced fatal and non-fatal heart problems risk by 12%, likely as a consequence of the high content of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) comparable to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which reduce platelet aggregation and inflammation. A big but barely increased risk of heart problems was reported for prime fried fish intake, likely as a consequence of using vegetable oils with a high content of saturated fatty acids, comparable to palm oil.

Conclusions and Future Directions

Overall, the study findings showed that fish consumption can reduce fatal and non-fatal CVD risks, in step with previous studies. Increased fish consumption may lead to the buildup of water pollutants comparable to mercury, heavy metals, and microplastics that could be toxic to the human body. Further research, including more homogeneous studies, is required to disentangle the associations between fish consumption, human well-being, and overall water pollution.

Journal reference:

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