Fish intake is associated with lower cardiovascular risk in a Mediterranean population: Prospective results from the Moli-sani study

Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2017 Oct;27(10):865-873. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2017.08.004. Epub 2017 Aug 23.


Background and aims: Fish consumption reportedly reduces the risk of heart disease, but the evidence of cardiovascular advantages associated with fish intake within Mediterranean cohorts is limited. The aim of this study was to test the association between fish intake and risk of composite coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke in a large population-based cohort adhering to Mediterranean Diet.

Methods and results: Prospective analysis on 20,969 subjects free from cardiovascular disease at baseline, enrolled in the Moli-sani study (2005-2010). Food intake was recorded by the Italian version of the EPIC food frequency questionnaire. Hazard ratios were calculated by using multivariable Cox-proportional hazard models. During a median follow-up of 4.3 years, a total of 352 events occurred (n of CHD = 287 and n of stroke = 66). After adjustment for a large panel of covariates, fish intake ≥4 times per week was associated with 40% reduced risk of composite CHD and stroke (HR = 0.60; 95%CI 0.40-0.90), and with 40% lower risk of CHD (HR = 0.60; 95%CI 0.38-0.94) as compared with subjects in the lowest category of intake (<2 times/week). A similar trend of protection was found for stroke risk although results were not significant (HR = 0.62; 95%CI 0.26-1.51). When fish types were considered, protection against the composite outcome and CHD was confined to fatty fish intake.

Conclusions: Fish intake was associated with reduced risk of composite fatal and non-fatal CHD and stroke in a general Mediterranean population. The favourable association was likely to be driven by fatty fish.

Keywords: Cardiovascular risk; Cerebrovascular events; Coronary heart disease; Fatty fish; Fish intake; Stroke.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fishes*
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Protective Factors
  • Risk Factors
  • Seafood*
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors


  • Dietary Fats