Seafood-rich diets lessen women’s heart disease risk

A pilot program by the Seafood Nutrition Partnership found 92 percent of women who favored a diet rich in seafood lowered their risk of sudden cardiac death. The program, Eating Heart Healthy, was designed to help women understand and mitigate their risk of heart disease by eating more seafood.

At the launch of the program in June 2014, participants were tested for baseline levels of omega-3 fatty acids, an important nutrient for heart health that’s found primarily in seafood. Participants were retested on their omega-3 levels in October 2014 after implementing more seafood into their diets. The results found about nine in 10 women had improved their Omega-3 Index, and nearly six of 10 had moved into a lower cardiac risk quadrant, based on a scale developed by OmegaQuant.

“Following a Mediterranean diet rich in seafood can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 30 to 50 percent. The initial outcomes of our program have borne this out,” said Dr. JoAnne Foody, medical director for both the Pollin Cardiovascular Wellness Center at BWH and the Eating Heart Healthy program.

“The results achieved by the first Eating Heart Healthy cohort are clinically significant,” said Dr. William Harris, president of OmegaQuant, creator of the Omega-3 Index test. “They have shown that having knowledge of baseline omega-3 levels is a good motivator towards increased seafood consumption.”

The Seafood Nutrition Partnership is a national non-profit advocating a diet rich in seafood to help America’s public health crisis. The organization partners with Brigham & Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Roxbury Tenants of Harvard (RTH).

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for women in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services’ dietary guidelines recommend Americans eat seafood twice a week, only 20 percent of Americans consume seafood at this level.


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