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Fish consumption and coronary heart disease mortality

Bandolier 49 reported that eating fish once a week reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death by half. This paper takes this line of research one step further and examines different types of fish in association with death from coronary heart disease.


Eating a small amount of oily fish (around 4oz a week) reduces risk of death from coronary heart disease by 34%.


C Oomen et al. Fish consumption and coronary heart disease mortality in Finland, Italy and the Netherlands. American Journal of Epidemiology 2000 151: 999-1006.


Participants were 1,088 Finnish, 1,097 Italian and 553 Dutch men from the Seven Countries Study, aged between 50-69 years and free of coronary heart disease at the start of the study. Dietary information on the previous 6-12 month period was collected using the cross-check dietary history method. Information obtained by interviews on food consumption was compared with that obtained from questionnaires.

Consumption was calculated for:

Canned fish was not included.


During 20 years of follow-up (1970-1990) 463 men died of coronary heart disease. There was no association between total or lean fish consumption and coronary heart disease mortality.

Oily fish consumption was associated with a 34% reduced risk of coronary heart disease mortality compared with no oily fish consumption (relative risk 0.66, 95% confidence interval 0.49 to 0.90). The average intake was 17 g/day. The results were adjusted for age, body mass index, smoking, intake of energy, fruit, vegetables, alcohol, meat, butter and margarine.


The authors suggest that the protective effect of oily fish may be due to n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Consumption of 15 g/day of lean fish equates to about 50 mg of n-3 fatty acids; in contrast, 15 g/day of oily fish provides about 400mg of n-3 fatty acids.