Fish Intake Associated with Less Atherosclerosis

September 27, 2007


Fish Consumption and Early Atherosclerosis in Middle-Aged Men
Nakamura Y. et al., Metabolism. 56(8): 1060-1064 (2007)
Caridiovascular Epidemiology, Kyoto Women’s University, Kyoto, Japan


Previous reports in the scientific literature on population-based studies have suggested that higher chronic intakes of DHA+EPA over long time periods in older subjects was associated with reduced atherosclerosis. The present study evaluated the association between fish consumption and early atherosclerosis in younger Japanese men (average age of 45 years). A total of 250 randomly-selected community-based Japanese men without a prior history of cardiovascular disease were assigned to two groups based on their frequency of fish consumption. There were 147 men who consumed fish less than 4 times per week and 103 men who consumed it much more frequently at the rate of 4 or more times weekly. Early atherosclerosis was measured in all participants as average intima-media thickness by carotid ultrasound.

Although no significant differences were found between the two groups in conventional risk factors for cardiovascular disease (blood pressure, blood lipids, blood glucose, body mass index), the group having the higher fish consumption frequencies exhibited a lower incidence of early atherosclerosis. The authors suggested that such apparent beneficial effects of fish consumption may possibly be mediated via protective effects on inflammation in view of recent evidence that DHA and EPA can produce anti-inflammatory factors known as protectin and resolvins.

Dr. Holub's Comments:

It is noteworthy that the levels of fish consumption in both groups as studied in Japan are markedly higher than typical fish intakes in North America where fish consumption averages approximately one fatty fish serving every 10-12 days despite official government recommendations from various health agencies to increase fish consumption to at least two servings per week. The authors of this present study estimated that daily DHA and EPA intakes amongst all the individuals studied averaged 660 mg and 380 mg, respectively, per day such that total average daily intakes DHA/EPA (combined) would be approximately 1,040 mg. Such intakes amongst these Japanese men are 6-8 times greater than for average intakes amongst North American men.

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