According to the researchers that reported in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, said that young women may reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease simply by eating more fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
In accordance with the first-population report of women in childbearing age, around 50 percent of those who rarely or never ate fish were more prone to cardiovascular problems over eight years than those who ate fish regularly.
Researchers used a Danish nationwide population based pregnancy cohort to examine whether or not eating more fish might reduce cardiovascular disease risk in the young women.
About 49,000 women, 15-49 years old, median age of just under 30 years in early pregnancy – were interviewed by telephone or answered food frequency questionnaires about how much, what types and how often they ate fish, as well as lifestyle and family history questions.
Researchers recorded 577 cardiovascular events during the eight-year period, including five cardiovascular deaths in women without any prior diagnosis of the disease. In all, 328 events were due to hypertensive disease, 146 from cerebro-vascular disease, and 103 from ischemic heart disease.
Women who ate very little or no fish were found to be inpatient and outpatient for cardiovascular disease. In three different assessments over a 30-week period, women who never ate fish had a three-fold higher disease risk compared to women who ate fish every week.
“To our knowledge this is the first study of this size to focus exclusively on women of childbearing age,” said Marin Strøm, Ph.D., lead researcher and post doctoral fellow at the Centre for Fetal Programming, at Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. “The biggest challenge in getting health messages like this across to younger populations is that usually the benefits may not be evident for 30 or 40 years, but our study shows this is not the case. We saw a strong association with cardiovascular disease in the women who were still in their late 30’s.”
Fish oil contains long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are believed to protect against heart and vascular disease. Few women in the study took fish oil supplements, so these were excluded from the analyses and the results were based on the dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids, not intake from supplements.
Most previous studies that found cardiovascular benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have focused on men, according to Strom.