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MEDICAL researchers love fish. The reason: a person who eats fish lives longer as it combats a lot of health threats. “If you eat a modest amount of fish, you dramatically decrease your risk of dying from a heart attack,” says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a researcher of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Findings from 30 large studies conducted around the world show that people who consume just one or two servings of fish per week lower their risk of a fatal heart attack by an average of 36 percent.

That’s good news for Filipinos as the Department of Health ranks heart disease as the number-one killer in the country. “The death toll from cardiovascular diseases in the country is about one every seven minutes,” says Dr. Philip S. Chua, one of the country’s top cardiologists.

Cardiovascular diseases don’t affect the heart itself but also the blood vessel system, especially the veins and arteries leading to and from the heart.

If you have already had a heart attack, shifting to a high-fish diet can cut your chances of future deadly attacks by one third.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat that the body derives from food. Omega-3s (and omega-6s) are known as essential fatty acids because they are important for good health. The body cannot make these fatty acids on its own so omega-3s must be obtained from food, particularly fish.

The American Heart Association suggests that a person should eat at least two servings of oily fish each week to help keep his hearts healthy. Among the fish species high in omega-3s are bas (striped), herring, mackerel (Atlantic), oysters (Pacific), sablefish, salmon, trout (freshwater), and tuna.

Shrimp may not be considered a fish but it is still seafood. One study found that people who ate shrimp everyday for three weeks had a relatively small rise in LDL (touted to be the “bad cholesterol”) but an even greater jump in HDL (“the good cholesterol”). Result: Their heart disease risk actually went down.

Consuming oily fish may likewise reduce the risk of developing asthma.

In a University of Cambridge study of 770 volunteers, researchers found that those with symptomatic asthma were less likely to report having eaten fish at least twice a week throughout the year than those without asthma.

Study author Dr. Bipen Patel believes that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may reduce the production of substances that can cause constriction and inflammation in the airway.

The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil have also been found to treat many medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis.

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