Go Fish! Adding Baked/Broiled Fish to Diet Can Really Benefit Menopausal Women

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • There’s nothing fishy about this news. The American Heart Association is reporting the results of a new study that found that postmenopausal women who frequently ate baked or broiled fish were at lower risk of developing heart failure.

    This large-scale study, which was reported in Circulation: Heart Failure (an American Heart Association publication), analyzed self-reported dietary data from 84,493 postmenopausal women who took part in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study.  This study covered a time span from 1991 through August 2008. Eighty-five percent of these women were Caucasian, while 7% were African-American and 3% were Hispanic. The average age of study participants was 63 at the baseline of the study.

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    The researchers separated study participants into two groups based on the frequency of eating fish as well as the type of fish they consumed. The researchers identified two types of preparation methods – baked/broiled and frying.  The types of fish in the baked/broiled group included canned tuna, tuna salad, tuna casserole, white fish, dark fish, and shellfish. The fish consumed by the other group included fried fish, fish sandwich and fried shellfish.

    The researchers found that postmenopausal women in the study who ate the most baked/broiled fish (five or more servings/week) had a 30% lower risk of heart failure compared to women who seldom ate it (less than one serving/month). However, postmenopausal women who consumed fried fish increased their risk of heart failure. The researchers found that just eating one serving of fried fish per week was associated with a 48% higher risk of heart failure.


    The researchers also found that the type of fish you eat is important. For instance, dark fish, such as salmon, mackerel and bluefish, were associated with a significantly greater risk reduction than that of white fish such as sole, snapper and cod, or tuna.


    The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, who is an associate professor, preventative cardiologist and chair of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Department of Preventive Medicine, said, “Baking or broiling fish and eating it frequently seem to be part of a dietary pattern that is very beneficial for a number of things. In this case, we demonstrate that it’s associated with heart failure prevention. This suggests that fish is a very good source of lean protein that we ought to be increasing as a proportion of our diet and decreasing foods that contain less healthy saturated and trans fats.”


    The study also found that postmenopausal women who consumed more baked/broiled fish tended to be healthier and younger. They were more physically active and fit and more educated; in addition, they were less likely to smoke or have diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. This group also tended to eat a better diet that contained more fruits, vegetables and beneficial fatty acids (fish, nuts, seed, and certain vegetable oils), and less saturated and trans-fatty acids. 

  • So as we get ready to start summer, it’s a great time to start adding baked or broiled fish to your diet. If you’re looking for new ways to prepare fish, here are some suggestions:

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Published On: May 26, 2011