WASHINGTON - Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines and anchovies, can reduce risk of a deadly heart attack by 10 per cent, a study out Monday said.
Researchers looked at blood and tissue omega-3 levels in participants of 19 studies across 16 countries, the report published in the US journal JAMA Internal Medicine said.
They found that while omega-3s "were associated with about a 10 per cent lower risk of fatal heart attacks," the same reduction of risk did not hold true for nonfatal heart attacks.
That suggests "a more specific mechanism for benefits of omega-3s related to death," the researchers said.
The new results "provide the most comprehensive picture to-date of how omega-3s may influence heart disease," coauthor Liana Del Gobbo of the Stanford University School of Medicine added.
Both plant and seafood-based omega-3s were associated with the 10 per cent lower risk in fatal heart attacks.
Fish, the major source of omega-3s, are also rich in specific proteins, vitamin D, selenium, and other minerals and elements, the researchers said.
Plant-based omega-3s are prevalent in walnuts, flaxseed oil, canola oil and some other seeds and nuts and their oils.
The new study provides "an unprecedented opportunity to understand how blood biomarkers of many different fats and fatty acids relate to diverse health outcomes" as part of a global consortium, said senior author Dariush Mozaffarian of Tufts University's Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.
The researchers studied more than 45,630 participants. Of those, 7,973 people suffered first-time heart attacks, of whom 2,781 died.
"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," Del Gobbo said.