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This Superfood Might Someday Save Your Life, Study Finds

Go ahead and indulge in these "fatty" foods... your heart and loved ones may one day thank you.

Go ahead, pull up to that big plate of salmon. Grab a nice big handful of walnuts. Both of these foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (aka "essential fatty acids"), which are long chains of fats that are actually good for you and are known for supporting heart health. In fact, new findings suggest that eating more of them regularly may even help save your life if you were to ever suffer from a heart attack.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology took a look at heart attack patients who were admitted to the hospital and found that those who had higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to die, or even require re-hospitalization, during the three years following their heart attack compared to other patients

Specifically, this research looked for two kinds omega-3s—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)—in the bloodwork of 944 heart attack patients with an average age of 61,  209 of which were women. (Related: 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.)

EPA has already been associated with a lower risk of heart attack, and its best-known food source is fatty fish, including salmon and mackerel. ALA has also already been associated with a lower risk of death in the event of a heart attack, and its best food sources include walnuts, flaxseeds, and canola oil. 

After following the heart attack patients' progress for three years, the researchers found that those with higher levels of EPA and ALA in their blood at the time they were admitted to the hospital for a heart attack were more likely to be alive at the end of the study. Those with higher levels of EPA were also less likely to require readmission to the hospital during that timeframe.

From this, the scientists concluded that a diet rich in omega-3s could serve as a smart heart attack prevention strategy. So, with that in mind, here are 21+ healthy salmon recipes you can make tonight (and often!) in the name of good heart health.

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Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a food, health, and culture writer whose work has appeared online and in print for Reader's Digest as well as Health Digest, Huffington Post, Taste of Home, and others. Read more