Eating a diet rich in oily fish, nuts and seeds cut the chances of dying from a heart attack by up to 10 per cent, researchers have found.
Fish such as salmon and mackerel contain high levels of omega-3 acids while walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and vegetable oils are full of the plant-based equivalent.
Researchers from around the world joined together to form the Fatty acids and Outcomes Research Consortium (FORCE).
They pooled findings from a number of large studies measuring blood or tissue levels of omega-3 in relation to heart disease over time.
Eating a diet rich in oily fish like salmon and mackerel can aid your chances of recovery if you have a heart attack, according to a number of studies
Using 19 studies from 16 countries and including 45,637 participants, they found plant-based and seafood-based omega-3s were associated with about a 10 per cent lower risk of fatal heart attacks.
Of these, 7,973 people developed a first heart attack over time, including 2,781 deaths and 7,157 heart attacks which were not fatal.
In contrast, the fatty acids biomarkers were generally not associated with a risk of non-fatal heart attacks, suggesting a more specific mechanism for benefits of omega-3s related to death.
Study leader Soctor Liana Del Gobbo, a post-doctoral research fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine, said their findings represented the most comprehensive picture of how omega-3s may influence heart disease.
‘Across these diverse studies, findings were also consistent by age, sex, race, presence or absence of diabetes, and use of aspirin or cholesterol-lowering medications,’ he said.
Senior author Professor Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston, said: ‘At a time when some but not other trials of fish oil supplementation have shown benefits, there is uncertainty about cardiovascular effects of omega-3s.
‘Our results lend support to the importance of fish and omega-3 consumption as part of a healthy diet.’
Fish is the major food source of omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).