Today doctors advise people at risk for heart disease to take an aspirin a day. Maybe soon they’ll also advise eating some salmon every week. In a recent study, people who ate enough fish to get 5.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in a month (that works out to a 3-ounce serving of salmon weekly) had only half the risk of cardiac arrest — an often fatal irregularity in heart rhythm — as people who ate no omega-3s (Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 1, 1995). Researchers think the omega-3s (special fatty acids abundant in only a few types of fish) may help fortify heart muscle cells against unstable heartbeats. Here’s some more good news: Dietary omega-3s seem to take effect quickly. They show up in cell membranes within days to weeks.
Where to Catch the Most Omega-3s
Find out if your favorite seafood is a Moby Dick or an Iddy Biddy Fiddy when it comes to heart-healthy omega-3s. Unless noted, we ranked all fish per 3-ounce serving (that’s about the size of a cassette tape):
- WHOPPERS (for 5.5 g. omega-3s, eat 4 servings a month): all varieties of salmon (except lox), Pacific and Jack mackerel, whitefish (except smoked), pickled Atlantic herring, European anchovies (if you eat 21each time!)
- GREAT CATCHES (for 5.5 g. omega-3s, eat 5 to 7 servings a month): Atlantic mackerel, rainbow trout, Atlantic sardines, Atlantic and Pacific oysters, canned white tuna (albacore), swordfish, bluefin tuna, rainbow smelt
- GUPPIES (not high in omega-3s but superhealthy low-fat fare nevertheless): flounder, sole, halibut, crab, shrimp, European anchovies (a normal serving of 5 anchovies), catfish, cod, haddock, ocean perch, orange roughy, canned light tuna, yellowfin tuna (the kind served fresh in most restaurants), lobster, clams, grouper, mahi mahi, Florida pompano, snapper, lox, smoked whitefish, gefilte fish, fish sticks.