Food & Nutrition
Facts About Fish
Delicious and Nutritious
Low-fat fish provides a quality replacement for fatty meats. The protein in fish supplies your body with necessary building blocks that help your physical and mental health. Fish also contains plenty of vitamins and minerals. Riboflavin and vitamins B2 and D help transport calcium into the bones. Health-boosting minerals include iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and selenium.
Reap the heart-health and disease-fighting benefits of these scaly creatures. Click through the slideshow to learn more about the health benefits of fish.
All About Omega-3s
Perhaps the most important advantage of eating fish comes from the omega-3 fatty acids in both finfish and shellfish. According to the Cleveland Clinic, omega-3s help protect against heart disease and may help lower your blood pressure. They also have anti-inflammatory properties.
Types of fish that contain the most omega-3s include:
Omega-3s may also help increase your lifespan, research shows. A study of over 2,600 older adults found that those who had the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids lived on average more than two years longer than those with lower levels of omega-3s.
Study participants with the highest omega-3 levels reduced their risk of dying from any cause up to 27 percent compared with those who had lower levels.
Studies have shown a link between eating fish and cardiovascular health. The Mayo Clinic described a study of more than 84,000 postmenopausal women who consumed five or more servings of baked or broiled fish a week. The study found that the women had a 30 percent lowered risk of heart failure.
However, it also discovered that eating just a single serving of fried fish per week led to a nearly 50 percent greater risk of heart failure.
Some people eat fish to help with certain thinking disorders, such as:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
However, according to the NIH, there is insufficient evidence that fish oil (which can be obtained by eating fish or taking supplements) helps prevent depression or Alzheimer’s disease. Research is also inconclusive about the effects of fish oil on ADHD and psychosis. However, it seems to improve these conditions for certain age groups.
According to the NIH, researchers believe fish oil can lower triglycerides by as much as 50 percent. High levels of triglycerides have been associated with both cardiovascular disease and diabetes when left untreated.
The effectiveness of fish oil in lowering triglyceride levels in patients with heart problems has inspired the FDA approval of a prescribed fish oil supplement, omega-3-acid ethyl esters (Lovaza). Alternately, over-the-counter fish oil supplements are often manufactured with omega-3-rich fish.
The mercury content in fish has created some cause for concern. Small amounts of mercury occur naturally within the environment. Most adults face no health risks from mercury.
The NIH advises that eating large amounts of certain types of fish may cause health risks. Farm-raised salmon, king mackerel, and shark are among the varieties of fish that are more likely to be contaminated with mercury.
How to Prepare
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends consuming at least two servings of fish a week—especially fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A serving size is about 3.5 ounces cooked, or the size of a deck of cards.
Avoid eating fish that has been fried or breaded. It will up your fat intake and cancel out health benefits. Instead, enjoy steamed fish, baked cod and salmon, or broiled halibut for healthy low-calorie, high-protein food.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Eskimos have a diet high in fish with omega-3 fatty acids and have low incidence of heart disease. Their high fish consumption may account for high levels of HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, despite their consumption of high-fat and high-cholesterol foods.
So take a tip from the Eskimos and eat more fish! A diet rich in the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish can help you stay heart-healthy and live longer.