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Benefits of Eating Fish May Depend on Preparation

Baked or boiled beats fried or dried for heart health, researchers say

TUESDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- You'll get more heart-healthy benefits from omega-3 fatty acids if you eat baked or boiled fish instead of fried, dried or salted fish, according to a new study, which also found that adding low-sodium soy sauce or tofu is a good idea for women.

"It appears that boiling or baking fish with low-sodium soy sauce [shoyu] and tofu is beneficial, while eating fried, salted or dried fish is not. In fact, these methods of preparation may contribute to your risk," study author Lixin Meng, a doctoral candidate at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said in a news release from the American Heart Association.

"We did not directly compare boiled or baked fish versus fried fish, but one can tell from the [risk] ratios, boiled or baked fish is in the protective direction, but not fried fish," Meng said.

The researchers studied the source, type, amount and frequency of dietary intake of omega-3 among 82,243 men and 103,884 women in Los Angeles County and Hawaii. The participants included blacks, whites, Hispanics, Japanese and native Hawaiians. They were 45 to 75 years old and had no history of heart disease.

During an average of 11.9 years of follow-up, there were 4,516 heart-related deaths among the participants.

Men who consumed the most omega-3 fatty acids (about 3.3 grams per day) had a 23 percent lower risk of cardiac death than those who ate only 0.8 grams per day.

"Clearly, we are seeing that the higher the dietary omega-3 intake, the lower the risk of dying from heart disease among men," Meng said.

The association between omega-3 fatty acid intake and reduced risk of cardiac death wasn't as apparent among women, the study authors noted.

However, the study found clear heart health benefits for women who consumed greater amounts of shoyu and tofu.

"My guess is that, for women, eating omega-3s from shoyu and tofu that contain other active ingredients such as phytoestrogens might have a stronger cardioprotective effect than eating just omega-3s," Meng said.

The study was scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about omega-3 fatty acids.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Nov. 17, 2009

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