Can Eating Fish Reduce Your Risk of Stroke?

Eating Fish May Help Reduce Cholesterol & Risk of StrokeA recent analysis of 15 studies measuring the potential relationship between fish consumption and incidence of stroke in a combined total of 383,838 participants, found that eating fish at least three times per week was associated with a slightly lower risk of stroke.

The recent analysis, by Susanna C. Larsson, PhD and Nicola Orsini, PhD of the Division of Nutritional Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, was published online in the September 8, 2011 issue of Stroke, a medical journal of the American Heart Association.

As reported by Reuters Health for MedlinePlus, “Close to 800,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke each year, and 136,000 die from it. Smoking, drinking, being overweight and having high blood pressure and cholesterol are all linked to a higher risk of stroke.”

Studies & Analysis; Methodology

For purposes of their analysis, Dr. Susanna Larsson and Dr. Nicola Orsini of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, identified and reviewed fifteen published prospective studies that measured for a potential relationship between fish consumption and stroke risk. The 15 studies, which were located by searching the Embase and PubMed data bases through May 2011, included a combined total of 383,838 participants age 30 to 103. The studies were done in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China.

In each of the studies, the participants had been surveyed to determine how often they ate fish and related information, and then followed for a period of years, which varied between the studies from four years to 30 years, to determine incidence of strokes among the participants. Over the follow-up periods, the participants in the 15 studies suffered a combined total of 9,360 stroke events.

Drs. Larsson and Orsini indicated that they “conducted a dose–response meta-analysis to summarize the evidence from [these 15] prospective studies regarding the association between fish consumption and stroke risk.”


The authors’ meta-analysis of the 15 studies found that eating three extra servings of fish each week was associated with a 6% reduction in risk of stroke.

However, when the people in each study who ate the most fish were compared to those who ate the least, those who ate the most fish were 12 percent less likely to have a stroke than those who ate the least.

Drs. Larsson and Orsini concluded that, “These findings indicate that fish consumption is weakly inversely associated with the risk of stroke.”

How Does Eating Fish Benefit You?

“I think overall, fish does provide a beneficial package of nutrients, in particular the omega-3s, that could explain this lower risk,” Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a Harvard School of Public Health epidemiologist whose research was included in the analysis, told Reuters Health.

“A lot of the evidence comes together suggesting that about two to three servings per week is enough to get the benefit,” he said.

Drs. Larsson and Orsini wrote that omega-3 fatty acids in fish might lower stroke risk through their positive effects on cholesterol and blood pressure.

Vitamin D, selenium and certain types of proteins in fish may also have stroke-related benefits, Dr. Mozaffarian added.

Dr. Mozaffarian’s research separated the effects of eating different kinds of fish, and found that eating more fried fish or fish sandwiches did not lower one’s risk of stroke.

But the research did not prove that eating more non-fried fish would prevent you from having a stroke. People who eat a lot of fish, Mozaffarian told Reuters Health, “could have healthier diets in other ways, people could exercise more, people could have better education that could lead them to see their doctors more.” All of those things might decrease their risk of stroke, he postulated.

Dr. Mozaffarian also said that people who start out eating no fish or very little probably have the most to gain by increasing their fish consumption. “You get a lot of bang for your buck when you go from low intake to moderate, a few servings per week,” he said. After that, the benefit from each extra serving probably decreases.

Fatty fish such as salmon and herring are especially high in omega-3s, and the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fatty fish each week.

More Information

The full report of the meta-analysis by Dr. Susanna C. Larsson and Dr. Nicola Orsini of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden is available online in the September 8, 2011 issue of Stroke, a medical journal of the American Heart Association.

See also, the HelpingYouCare™ reports on:

Smart Diet Tips & Tools

New Study: Eating Fish & Omega-3 May Reduce Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Women

How Do People Lose Weight & What Can Be Done About the Obesity Epidemic?

Special Vegan Diet Lowers Cholesterol Significantly, Study Finds

And see, the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Heart Disease & Stroke, including

See further, the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on Wellness/ Healthy Living for Seniors & Caregivers, including:

Diet & Nutrition: Physical Wellness;

Exercise: Physical Wellness;

And other areas of wellness.


Copyright © 2011 Care-Help LLC, publisher of HelpingYouCare™.


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