The risk of developing cardiovascular disease is reduced for young women who eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, according to study, published in Hypertension, journal of the American Heart Association.

"To our knowledge this is the first study of this size to focus exclusively on women of childbearing age," said Marin Strom, Ph.D., lead researcher and post-doctoral fellow at the Centre for Fetal Programming, at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Researchers analyzed data of around 50,000 women ages 15-49, with median age just under 30, using the Danish nationwide population based pregnancy data. They examined the impact of Omega-3 diet and cardiovascular disease for young women. Women in the data answered the frequency questionnaires about types of fish they ate, lifestyle and family history.

In an eight year period admission for cardiovascular disease were common amongst women who reported eating little or no fish. Those who ate little or no fish were three times as likely being at risk compared to those who ate fish every week.

"The biggest challenge in getting health messages like this across to younger populations is that usually the benefits may not be evident for 30 or 40 years, but our study shows this is not the case. We saw a strong association with cardiovascular disease in the women who were still in their late 30's," said Strom.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to lowering high triglycerides, and they also seem to help prevent heart disease and stroke when taken in the recommended amounts. Fish oil seems to be able to expand blood vessels, and this brings high blood pressure down, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"Women who eat fish should find the results encouraging, but it is important to emphasize that to obtain the greatest benefit from fish and fish oils, women should follow the dietary recommendations to eat fish as a main meal at least twice a week," she said.

"Our study shows that for younger women, eating fish is very important for overall health, and even though we found cardio-protective effects at relatively modest dietary levels, higher levels may yield additional benefits," Strom said.