Fish and fish products play an important role in the food supply around the world, as fish are one of the most nutritionally beneficial foods available. Steady and balanced consumption of fish offers unique nutritional and general health benefits and is considered a key element in a healthy diet.
A valuable source of essential nutrients, not only are fish and other seafood high in protein and macronutrients, but they are also rich sources of micronutrients and long chain omega-3 fatty acids. A slew of new research has uncovered more amazing reasons to add more to your regular diet.
Fish has a longstanding reputation for being a low-calorie, high protein “brain food” thanks to the long strands of polyunsaturated essential omega-3 fatty acids (popularly referred to as omega-3s) found in fish oil. The important thing to know about omega-3s is that your body doesn’t naturally produce it, but it’s nevertheless essential for good health. Although the link between omega-3s and heart health has long been known, several new studies present even more evidence that fish high in these fatty acids is essential for total-body wellness.
The good news is if you’re not a fish fan, you don’t need to eat it that often to reap the benefits. Eating fish only once or twice a week can deliver a substantial amount of omega-3s into your diet. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Health recommends that people consume at least 2 percent of their total daily calories as omega-3 fatty acids, which equals about 4 grams per day.
One four-ounce piece of salmon (one of the highest natural sources of omega-3s) contains about 1.5 grams of fatty acid. Other fish, such as tuna, sardines, and halibut, also contains high levels. If you don’t eat animal products or have trouble fitting fish into your diet, you can get your daily recommended amount of fatty acids through omega-3 DHA/fish oil supplements.
Although new data from consumer reports suggests that more Americans are buying omega-3 supplements than ever before, the doctor-recommended way to consume the health benefits of fish is still by eating the real thing. Getting your vitamins, minerals and nutrients from their natural sources is always better than taking synthetic supplements.
If the heart-health-boosting, waist-slimming properties of fish didn’t convince you to incorporate them more into your diet, here are some more reasons why fish should be included into your daily eating plan:
Benefits of Consuming Fish
1. Prevents Heart Disease
Fish contains a multitude of nutrients that boost heart health and in the process can help prevent heart disease. Packaged foods, too many simple carbs, and poor diets have us at risk of heart attacks and strokes more than ever. Stress makes it worse. Fish is one of the foods that can help lower your risk of heart diseases. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are the crucial. But that is not the only benefit of omega-3.
Newer research has found omega-3s are also good for fighting depression and lifting mood, combating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and slowing or even halting cognitive decline.
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders today and it can get worse as you age. People who eat fish on a weekly basis have lower risk of becoming depressed.
2. Improves Skin and Hair
Your hair and nails need healthy fat in your diet to thrive. In addition to the disease resisting benefits, the fatty acids in fish can improve your hair and skin health.
3. Rich in Iron
Iron is a crucial elements for health. Its main function is to aid in metabolizing proteins and help produce hemoglobin alongside red blood cells.
Iron also plays an important role in improving and maintaining your immune system. It’s also linked to treating insomnia and helps regulate your body temperature when exercising or ill.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 30% of the world population suffers from anemia–a lack of iron. Anemia can prove fatal if iron is deficient for long periods of time.
Good iron content is another reason why fish and seafood should be included in your diet.
4. Boosts Brain Development
Fatty acids are essential for proper brain development, especially in children. These acids could even help with ADHD disorders and aid in cognitive development by helping growing children concentrate better alongside other benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids have traditionally been linked to improving brain health for both senior citizens and developing children, and are imperative for maintaining and retaining cognitive health.
5. Stronger Sperm Count
Fish and seafood are known to help men produce a larger count of sperm cells and overall stronger sperm. Couples experiencing difficulty conceiving should add fish to their diet. A recent study consisting of 188 men found that those who ate more fresh fish, along with other healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, had stronger “swimmers” than those who ate unhealthy diets.
Researchers say that more studies needs to be done around this topic, but the initial preliminary data shows that the better the diet, the stronger the shape and mobility of the sperm.
6. Linked to Reduced Risk of Autoimmune Diseases, Including Type 1 Diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, a person’s immune system attacks insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Once those cells are destroyed, they won’t ever make insulin again. Once a person has type 1 diabetes, it requires lifelong treatment. People with type 1 diabetes depend on daily insulin injections or an insulin pump to control their blood glucose levels.
Consuming fish and fish oils in larger amounts is highly recommended for people with autoimmune diseases, which include type 1 diabetes. Although the results that show benefits of fish in reducing risk of autoimmune diseases are preliminary, there is serious evidence that links omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D with these results.
Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues. While the evidence doesn’t directly correlate omega-3 oils and vitamin D to reduced autoimmune disease risks, preliminary data shows that it has the potential to do just that.
Eating fish has been linked to reduced risk of type 1 diabetes and several other autoimmune diseases. So why not incorporate it more into your diet?
7. Aids Pregnant Women and Developing Fetuses
Fish is also be beneficial for pregnant women. Eating fish every week can benefit the brain development of the fetus, and may even decrease the child’s risk of developing autism. This data was drawn from a study in Spain where researchers followed 2,000 expecting mothers and their developing children from the mothers’ first trimester of pregnancy until the children turned five years old.
The results showed the children whose mothers ate three to four servings of fish a week had IQ scores were 2.8 percent higher than those whose mothers ate less fish.
Eating fish regularly can be beneficial to your health, containing a multitude of vitamins and minerals that reduce risk for a slew of deadly diseases, particularly those related to the heart.
For adults, at least two servings of fish per week are recommended.
Fish is a high protein, low calorie food, rich in omega 3 acids, an essential fatty acid necessary for many aspects of health for people of all ages.