Advice for people who have had a heart attack about eating oily fish has changed. Senior dietitian Victoria Taylor explains.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has updated its guidance for patients following a heart attack.
The new guidance, published in November 2013, no longer recommends that people eat two to four portions of oily fish per week for the sole purpose of preventing another heart attack. It also does not recommend consuming omega-3 fatty acid capsules or supplemented foods for this purpose.
This is because after looking at all the available research and considering the treatments that are now offered after a heart attack, it was decided that the impact of oily fish consumption would be minimal.
However, while the advice to eat oily fish to help prevent another heart attack has changed, this does not mean we should stop eating fish entirely.
Eating oily fish will not be harmful to your heart and fish (both oily and white) is a nutritious choice which can form part of the Mediterranean-style diet (more bread, fruit, vegetables, fish and less meat, and replacing butter with unsaturated fat spreads).
Research into this style of eating has shown a reduced risk of developing problems such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and raised cholesterol, which are all risk factors for heart disease. Researchers have also found that people who closely follow a traditional Mediterranean style diet are more likely to live a longer life and also are less likely to become obese.
Choosing sustainable fish
Intensive fishing methods mean that many popular varieties are over-fished, threatening their numbers. However, you can choose fish from sustainable sources.
For quick and easy guidance, visit the
Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) website or call 0207 246 8900. The ‘species to eat’ list includes fish the MSC believes are fished within sustainable levels and using methods that don’t cause unacceptable damage to the environment or other fish species. Plus, look out for the MSC logo. To be an MSC-certified fishery, strict guidelines must be followed.
Get a copy of the Good Fish Guide or the Pocket Good Fish Guide from the Marine Conservation Society by calling 01989 566017 or visiting
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