Fish is good and good for you. It is packed with health benefits, including high-quality protein, vitamins and trace minerals that are difficult to obtain from other food sources. Fish is quick and easy to prepare, on the grill, in the broiler or in stir fry dishes.
So, why aren’t people consuming more fish? Could be because we’re conditioned to be a society of meat eaters. But as more Westerners are starting to assume an active role in their health, they are eating more fish than ever before.
If you’ve considered healthy eating from the sea, let’s take a look at the benefits of adding fish to your diet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
People who do not consume 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week are likely deficient in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
These are the polyunsaturated fatty acids, found in omega-3s, which interfere with blood clots and aid in prevention of plaque buildup in blood vessels. Plaque buildup and blood clots are precursors of atherosclerosis, which left untreated can lead to heart disease.
Good news for those who have already suffered a heart attack – eating two fish meals weekly may reduce the risks of a second, possibly fatal heart attack.
Omega-3 fatty acids may also aid in the fight against inflammatory and immune system reactions, which typify diseases such as psoriasis and arthritis.
Best Fish Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The richest fish in omega-3 fatty acids are the dwellers of cold, deep waters. These fish carry fat in their muscle tissue:
• Atlantic salmon
• Blue fin tuna
• Albacore tuna
If you have an affinity for sardines, they contain a godly amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Water packed canned tuna is another alternative.
Just because a certain fish does not carry fat in their muscle tissues doesn’t mean you should totally avoid it. Cod, snapper, halibut and haddock are a few white-fleshed fish that are excellent sources of protein.
Those ‘old wives’ rocked. For instance, the old wives’ tale that fish is brain food… Researchers have reported that amino acids and fatty acids in fish likely improve brain health.
Essential amino acids in fish are used by the body to make the brain’s neurotransmitters, which facilitate communication with other body systems.
Your body taps the fat contained in muscle tissues of fish and extracts the omega-3 fatty acids. It constructs brain-cell membranes from the fatty acids.
Also, as we age, our bodies have a tendency to produce smaller amounts of DHA. (Inadequate DHA is linked with a decline in cognitive abilities.)
One study, led by Ernst Schaefer, M.D. at Tufts University, followed 900 seniors for nine years. Researchers concluded the participants who ate fish three times weekly evidenced a decreased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, whereas non-fish eaters did not.
Now that you’re familiar with its bounty of benefits, are you up for eating more fish?
How is this for a surprise ending? Bet you didn’t know saltwater fish is one of the rare food sources of vitamin D.