Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Heart-Healthy Eating: Fish
As part of a healthy diet, eat at least two servings of fish each week. Oily fish, which contain
omega-3 fatty acids, are best. These fish include salmon,
mackerel, lake trout, herring, and sardines.
If you cannot eat fish, you can also get omega-3 fats from omega-3 eggs, walnuts, flax seeds, and canola oil.
Do not take fish-oil or omega-3 fatty acid supplements to lower your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. Research has not shown that these supplements lower risk.footnote 1
Fish is an important part of a heart-healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet is not just for people who have existing health problems. It is good for all healthy adults and children older than age 2. Learning heart-healthy eating habits now can help prevent problems in years to come. Eating a heart-healthy diet can help you to:
Eating fish may help lower your risk of coronary artery disease.
In people who have heart problems, omega-3 fatty acids may help lower
their risk of death.
Omega-3 fatty acids also lower the risk of sudden cardiac death and
Try to eat omega-3 fatty acids in foods like fish.
Eating more than two servings of fish a week can lower your risk for stroke or TIA. Oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and herring) lowers your risk more than other types of fish.footnote 2
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommend that women who may become
pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should not eat shark, swordfish,
king mackerel, or tilefish, because these fish have higher mercury
concentrations. But for middle-aged and older people, the protection fish offer
the heart outweighs the risks of eating these fish. Eating a variety of fish
may reduce the amount of mercury you eat.footnote 3, footnote 4
Fish oil supplements (2012). The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapies, 54 (1401): 83–84.
Chowdhury R, et al. (2012). Association between fish consumption, long chain omega 3 fatty acids, and risk of cerebrovascular disease: Systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. Published online October 30, 2012 (doi:10.1136/bmj.e6698).
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2004). What you
need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish: 2004 EPA and FDA advice for
women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers, young
children. Available online:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2011). Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish. Available online: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-SpecificInformation/Seafood/FoodbornePathogensContaminants/Methylmercury/ucm115644.htm.
Other Works Consulted
Eckel RH, et al. (2013). 2013 AHA/ACC guideline on lifestyle management to reduce cardiovascular risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines. Circulation. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/11/11/01.cir.0000437740.48606.d1.citation. Accessed December 5, 2013.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerRakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, ElectrophysiologySpecialist Medical ReviewerColleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
Current as ofJanuary 27, 2016
Current as of:
January 27, 2016
Rakesh K. Pai, MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology & Colleen O'Connor, PhD, RD - Registered Dietitian
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.