A Diet High in Fish may Protect Against Asthma

A study by researchers from James Cook University in Australia found that a diet high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) found in fish showed protection against the occurrence of asthma. On the contrary a diet high in n-6 PUFA found in vegetable oils showed an increase in the incidence of asthma. Results of the study were published December 25, 2018 in MDPI.

The Study Took Place in Fish Processing Factory in Small Coastal South African Village

Professor Andreas Lopata from JCU’s Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, (AITHM) took part in the study. Participants were 642 people who worked in a fish processing factory in a small coastal village in South Africa. They were mainly female (65%) around age 34 and 51% were smokers. This site was chosen because the population there had a high consumption of fish. It also was a place of low socioeconomic status without money for all kinds of shopping, so people would mainly consume n-3 marine oils from fish and other seafood rather than from supplements.

Questionnaires and Skin Prick Allergy Testing

The participants were given questionnaires to fill out about their eating habits. They were also given skin pricks to test for the following allergies that often lead to asthma:

  • House dust mite
  • Bermuda grass
  • Rye grass
  • Cockroach
  • Cat
  • Dog
  • Mouldmix
  • Alternaria
  • Aspergillus
  • Mussel


Consumption of certain kinds of n-3 oils from fish was associated with a 62% decreased risk for developing asthma. Consumption of high amounts of n-6 PUFA vegetable oils were associated with a 67% increased risk for having asthma. The n-6 PUFA have a more inflammatory role in the development of asthma whereas the n-3 showed significant protection against asthma.

Asthma on the Rise Worldwide

About 334 million people worldwide have asthma. About a quarter of a million people die from asthma every year. Asthma is on the rise worldwide. The rate of asthma has nearly doubled in the past 30 years. According to Dr. Lopata, for about half of people afflicted with asthma, the medical treatments do not work. For this reason researchers are looking for more non-drug treatment options.

Change in Dietary Patterns Worldwide is Believed to have Led to Increase of Asthma

Today people consume more n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) from vegetable oils than n-3 PUFA found mainly in fish and marine oils.

Benefits of Eating Fish Outweigh the Risks

According to Dr. Lopata, although some kinds of fish may be contaminated with chemicals like mercury, nonetheless the benefits of eating fish outweigh the risks.

Further Research is Needed

Further Research is Needed to see which types of n-3 are the most beneficial and how they can be used to minimize the bad effects of n-6.

Research also Shows Anti-aging and other Benefits from Eating Fish and Seafood

See our blog post from October 25, 2018 about the anti-aging benefits from eating fish and seafood. Eating fish may also help to prevent Parkinson’s disease according to research in our blog post from May 4, 2018. Other research shows that eating fish may help to prevent cardiovascular disease like strokes and heart attacks.

Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York

The Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, New York has a skilled chef and offers healthy and tasty food including fish. To read more about the wonderful amenities and recreational activities at Van Duyn see our blog post from May 30, 2018. For people suffering from respiratory disorders, Van Duyn has an excellent respiratory wellness program staffed by professional respiratory therapists


As long as one is not allergic specifically to fish, there are many health benefits from including it in your diet.

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