Friday, October 27, 2006

Fish and the heart

We wrote about nuts being good for the heart. Now we look at fish. This is a topic we have covered quite frequently.

The fact that the Eskimo diet, and by extension, the Japanese diet, is cardiac friendly, should not be in doubt. At the risk of re-stating the obvious, the Eskimos are carnivorous, surviving on meat, mainly fish, yet have very low levels of heart disease. The same can be said of Japanese in Japan, but not so with the Japanese in California. Strangely enough, the Japanese in Hawaii have an incidence of heart disease half way between that of Japanese in Japan, and Japanese in California.

Recently, we have seen the Japanese in Japan being protected from heart disease by a small dose of pravastatin, while on Japanese diet (MEGA study). We also note the extra BP lowering cardio-protective effect of Valsartan in hypertensive Japanese, while they are taking their Japanese diet (JIKEI study). Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, published in the JAMA, the cardio-protective effect of eating fish, the more oily the better. Of course, they also contrasted the benefits of eating oily fish, to the dangers of eating contaminants that exist in the fish, especially mercury.

It is well known from reports, also from Japan, the dangers of mercury poisoning in fishes (the Minimata study). The Harvard workers reported that the 36% reduction in deaths from heart disease, and the absolute 15% mortality reduction, far outweighs the dangers of mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenols (PCB), found in small amounts in some of the fishes.

We should still encourage the eating of fishes, three ounces of salmon and six oinces of mackerel per week. We in Malaysia, do not have salmon or mackerel in large amount, and they are costly. Maybe the oily "partins" could be a reasonable alternatives. Possibly, consume salmon fish oils capsules. We encourage 1-2 grams daily, and they are not cheap too. I usually tell my patients that to get the cardiac benefits, they may have to eat enough to smell a little fishy!!!

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