Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, and asthma involves an inflammation of the airways. Would eating omega-3-rich fish therefore help reduce the severity of asthma? A new study indicates that the answer is likely Yes.

Led by registered dietician Maria Papamichael from Australia's La Trobe University, the study involved 64 Greek children aged 5 to 12 years in the city of Athens. All of the children had mild asthma.

For six months, half of the test subjects were instructed to eat at least two meals of cooked fatty fish per week, at a minimum of 150 grams per serving – this was as part of a Mediterranean diet, which traditionally also includes a lot of plant-based foods and whole grains, while minimizing salt, red meat and saturated fats. The other half of the children continued with their regular diet.

At the end of the study period, the participants who ate the fish twice a week were found to have a 14-point reduction in bronchial inflammation. Under international guidelines, anything over 10 units is considered to be significant.

"We already know that a diet high in fat, sugar and salt can influence the development and progression of asthma in children and now we have evidence that it's also possible to manage asthma symptoms through healthy eating," says Papamichael. "Fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties. Our study shows eating fish just twice a week can significantly decrease lung inflammation in children with asthma."

The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics.

A previous study, conducted by the Mayo Clinic, indicates that childhood asthma may be completely avoided if mothers take omega-3 supplements during pregnancy.