If you’re a fan of fish, you may be in luck. Eating fish can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new report. Tennova Healthcare is calling attention to the American Heart Association (AHA) Science Advisory as a way to encourage East Tennesseans to adopt a heart-healthy diet.

The AHA has long recommended that people eat fish—preferably fatty varieties—once or twice a week. The updated advisory, published in the Circulation journal, reaffirms that eating fish helps ward off heart disease. Specifically, adults should strive for two 3.5-ounce servings of fish each week, which is more than Americans typically eat.

Since the last advisory on eating fish was issued by the AHA in 2002, scientific studies have further established the benefits of eating seafood, especially when it replaces meats that are high in artery-clogging saturated fat.

“The best choices are oily fish with large doses of omega-3 fatty acids,” said Osareme Anthony Irivbogbe, M.D., an interventional cardiologist with East Tennessee Heart Consultants in Knoxville. “That’s because omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood can decrease the possibility of abnormal heart rhythms and slow the growth of fatty deposits that clog arteries. It can also lower high triglyceride levels, which have been associated with diabetes and kidney disease.”

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, late trout, herring and sardines. Cod, catfish, tilapia, shrimp and oysters also contain omega-3s, but not in as high amounts. The advisory noted that fish oil supplements may help prevent death from heart disease in patients with a recent heart attack and may prevent death and hospitalization in patients with heart failure.

“Whatever fish you chose, just don’t fry it,” Dr. Irivbogbe said. “Researchers have found that fried foods put you at risk for several health problems—including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity—which contribute to heart disease.”

Don’t like fish? Dr. Irivbogbe notes that oily fish are not the only foods high in omega-3s. Chia seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts are also a good source of fatty acids.

“We’re not recommending that you eat sushi for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Dr. Irivbogbe said. “But adding seafood to your diet once or twice a week is proven to be beneficial in preventing not only heart attacks, but also stroke, congestive heart failure, and sudden cardiac death.”

In addition to eating more fish, experts recommend these heart-healthy diet tips:

  • Eat a variety of fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and fruitswithout high-calorie sauces or added salt and sugars.
  • Choose fiber-rich whole grainsfor most grain servings.
  • Select fat-free (skim) and low-fat (1%) dairy products.
  • Choose poultry and fishwithout skin and prepare them in healthy ways without added saturated and trans If you choose to eat meat, look for the leanest cuts available and prepare them in healthy ways.
  • Avoid foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce transfat in your diet.
  • Limit saturated and trans fats and replace them with the better fats (e.g., monounsaturated and polyunsaturated).
  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.
  • Choose foods with less sodium and prepare foods with little or no salt.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.

“When it comes to cardiovascular disease, there are some risk factors you simply can’t control, such as family history,” Dr. Irivbogbe said. “But there are many things you can do to reduce your chance of suffering a heart attack or stroke, including eating better, exercising more, quitting smoking, getting regular checkups, and taking the medications prescribed by your doctor.”

How healthy is your heart? To find out, Tennova offers a free heart health assessment at TennovaHeartHealth.com. In as few as five minutes, the online tool identifies personal risk factors for heart disease, offers tips to take control of your heart health, and provides a report to share with your physician.

Visit TennovaHeartHealth.com to take the free heart health assessment. For a referral to a heart specialist, call 1-855-TENNOVA (836-6682).

Tennova Healthcare offers cardiology services at North Knoxville Medical Center, Physicians Regional Medical Center, Turkey Creek Medical Center, Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Lakeway Regional Hospital, LaFollette Medical Center and Newport Medical Center. With more than 30 cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons and other specialists at multiple locations throughout the region, the health system is dedicated to offering better ways to treat and beat heart disease—close to home. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 06/27/2018-6AM)