A new study published on the British Medical Journal website says eating at least two servings of oily fish a week could significantly cut risk of stroke, but fish oil supplements may not have the same effect.
Led by Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury at Cambridge University and Professor Oscar H. Franco at Erasmus MC Rotterdam, an international team of researchers looked into the results of 38 studies, involving 180,000 participants in 15 countries, to shed light on the association between fish consumption and risk of stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischaemic attack or TIA).
According to the Science Daily report, the researchers assessed fish and long chain omega 3 fatty acid consumption in participants using dietary questionnaires. They also identified markers of omega 3 fats in the blood and recorded use of fish oil supplements.
Those who consumed two to four servings of oily fish a week had a moderate but significant 6% lower risk of cerebrovascular disease, while participants who eat five or more servings a week had a 12% lower risk. However, levels of omega 3 fats in the blood and fish oil supplements did not seem to have the same effects.
The authors explained some possible reasons surrounding the beneficial impact of eating fish on vascular health, one of them may be due to the interactions between a wide range of nutrients, like vitamins and essential amino acids, commonly found in fish. They said their findings are in line with current dietary guidelines that encourage fish consumption for all, but they also support the view that future nutritional guidelines should be principally “food based.”