Fish has important health benefits
Many of us are constantly looking to live a healthier lifestyle and increasing the amount of fish you consume can be a very easy way to achieve this. Fish is among the healthiest foods in the world, in fact white-fleshed fish is the lowest form of animal protein available to us.
Fish are loaded with important nutrients including low-fat high-quality protein; omega-3 fatty acids; vitamins such as D and B2; calcium; phosphorus and minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium and potassium. Fish is also low in omega-6 fatty acids, the “bad” fats which you find in red meat.
There are many reasons why increasing the amount if fish in your diet is beneficial for you, but below are just some of those reasons.
Fish is full of important nutrients
In general, all fish is good for you as it contains many nutrients that people are not getting enough of e.g. high-quality protein, iodine and various vitamins and minerals.
Some fish is better than others and the fatty types, such as salmon, trout & mackerel, are the healthiest for you. They have higher amounts of fat-based nutrients, including fat-soluble vitamin D, which the majority of people are deficient in, and omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial for optimal brain and body function.
Fish contains nutrients which are crucial during our development
Omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely essential for growth and development but are not produced by our bodies so must be obtained from the foods we eat. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is especially important as it is required for development of the brain and the eyes.
Due to this, expectant mothers are advised to ensure they are eating enough omega-3 fatty acids, although they should stick to fish that is low on the food chain, such as salmon and trout, to avoid consuming too much mercury.
Fish is the only good dietary source of vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for good bone health and yet 41.6% of Americans are deficient in it. It functions like a steroid hormone in the body and helps to increase the intestinal absorption of calcium, magnesium and phosphate. The main natural source of vitamin D is a chemical reaction depending on sunlight so it is recommended that you should obtain all your vitamin D from food to limit your exposure to the sun.
Fish and fish products provide the best dietary source of vitamin D, with the highest levels found in fatty fish. A 4oz serving of salmon would provide 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D. Fish oils, such as cod liver oil, also provide very high amounts with a single tablespoon providing 200% of the recommended daily intake.
Fish can help protect the brain from age-related deterioration and increase the amount of grey matter within our brain
One consequence of ageing is a deterioration of brain function, known as age-related cognitive decline. Whilst this is normal in many cases, we also see serious cases in those with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Observational studies have shown that consuming fish can slow the speed at which the cognitive decline occurs. The mechanism by which this occurs may be related to the grey matter which is the major functional tissue found in the brain.
Grey matter contains neurons which store memories, process information and make us what we define as human. Eating fish has been shown to increase the amount of grey matter we have in the centres of the brain which deal with emotion and memory. Having a higher amount of grey matter can reduce the brain shrinkage and deterioration seen with cognitive decline.
Fish can help treat & prevent depression
Despite not being talked about as much as obesity or heart disease, depression is one of the world’s largest health problems. Studies have shown that there is a lower incidence of depression in those who consume fish. Fish can quite literally make you a happier person!
Controlled trails have also determined that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial, not just in preventing depression, but in increasing the effectiveness of anti-depressants when they are taken.
Fish can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke
The two most common causes on premature death in the world are heart attacks and strokes. Fish is among the best food to eat to maintain a healthy heart as it plays a role in the regulation of blood clotting and vessel constriction. The high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids makes a fatty fish even more beneficial.
Many large observational studies have determined that people who eat fish on a regular basis lower their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke or even dying from heart disease. In one study of 40,000 males it was shown that those who ate fish at least once a week had a 15% lower risk of developing heart disease.
Fish is linked to a reduced risk of autoimmune disease inc. Type 1 diabetes
An autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy tissue. For example, in type 1 diabetes the immune system attacks insulin producing cells in the pancreas.
Several studies and shown that consumption of omega-3 or fish oil can be linked to a reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes in children, as well as a form of autoimmune diabetes in adults. The results are still in their preliminary stage but may be due to the presence of the omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
Fish may help to prevent childhood asthma
Asthma is a commonly occurring disease defined by chronic inflammation of the airways. Over the last few decades we have seen a significant increase in the number of people suffering from asthma, potentially because we are no longer exposed to the same number of germs so our immune systems struggle to differentiate between good and bad exposures.
Studies in children have shown that the risk of developing asthma can be reduced by 24% when the child consumes fish on a regular basis. This is due to the removal of some factors which contribute to the inflammation of the airway from coughing. The presence of potassium and vitamin B provide protection from chronic disease to the respiratory system.
Unfortunately, there is currently no evidence to show these effects are seen in adults.
Fish can help you protect your vision in old age
One of the leading causes of blindness and vision impairment in older individuals is macular degeneration. There is some evidence to suggest that regular consumption of fish and omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of degeneration occurring.
One study has shown a 42% reduction in the risk of suffering from macular degeneration for women who regularly consume fish. A separate study showed that weekly consumption of fatty fish reduced the risk of suffering from neovascular (wet) macular degeneration by 53%!
Fish can help to improve the quality of your sleep
Sleep disorders are incredibly common. There are many different reasons why you may suffer from a sleep disorder but a deficiency in vitamin D is believed to play a role. A 6-month study involving 95 middle aged men has shown that the consumption of salmon 3 times a week improved the quality of both their sleep and daily functioning.
It is also likely that the increased intake of Magnesium and manganese played a role in this effect.
In addition to the factors mentioned above, the presence of omega-3 fatty acids in fish have a positive effect on your metabolism assisting in weight loss as well as post-exercise muscle regeneration and fatigue recovery. The presence of potassium in the fish also plays a role in strengthening your muscles so why not come in and sample our Mediterranean-style White Snapper as your post-exercise or diving meal.