Health benefits of fish

1. Fish is high in important nutrients

Generally speaking, all types of fish are good for you.

They are high in many nutrients that most people aren’t getting enough of.

This includes high-quality protein, iodine and various vitamins and minerals. However, some fish are better than others, and the fatty types of fish are considered the healthiest. That’s because fatty fish (like salmon, trout, sardines, tuna and mackerel) are higher in fat-based nutrients. This includes the fat-soluble vitamin D, a nutrient that most people are deficient in. It functions like a steroid hormone in the body. Fatty fish are also much higher in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are crucial for your body and brain to function optimally, and are strongly linked to reduced risk of many diseases.

To meet your omega-3 requirements, eating fatty fish at least once or twice a week is recommended.

BOTTOM LINE:

Fish is high in many important nutrients, including high-quality protein, iodine and various vitamins and minerals. Fatty types of fish are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.

2. Fish may lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes

Heart attacks and strokes are the two most common causes of premature death in the world. Fish is generally considered to be among the best foods you can eat for a healthy heart. Not surprisingly, many large observational studies have shown that people who eat fish regularly seem to have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease. Researchers believe that the fatty types of fish are even more beneficial for heart health, because of their high amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

BOTTOM LINE:

Eating at least one serving of fish per week has been linked to reduced risk of heart attacks and strokes, two of the world’s biggest killers.

3. Fish contains nutrients that are crucial during development

Omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely essential for growth and development. The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is especially important, because it accumulates in the developing brain and eye. For this reason, it is often recommended that expecting and nursing mothers make sure to eat enough omega-3 fatty acids. However, there is one caveat with recommending fish to expecting mothers. Some fish is high in mercury, which ironically is linked to brain developmental problems. For this reason, pregnant women should only eat fish that are low in the food chain (salmon, sardines, trout, etc.), and no more than 12 ounces (340 grams) per week. Pregnant women should also avoid raw and uncooked fish (including sushi), because it may contain microorganisms that can harm the foetus.

BOTTOM LINE:

Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential for development of the brain and eyes. It is recommended that expecting and nursing mothers make sure to eat enough omega-3s.

4. Fish may increase grey matter in the brain and protect it from age-related deterioration

One of the consequences of ageing is that brain function often deteriorates (referred to as age-related cognitive decline). This is normal in many cases, but then there are also serious neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Interestingly, many observational studies have shown that people who eat more fish have slower rates of cognitive decline.

One mechanism could be related to grey matter in the brain. Grey matter is the major functional tissue in your brain, containing the neurons that process information, store memories and make you human.

Studies have shown that people who eat fish every week have more grey matter in the centres of the brain that regulate emotion and memory.

BOTTOM LINE:

Fish consumption is linked to reduced decline in brain function in old age. People who eat fish regularly also have more grey matter in the brain centres that control memory and emotion.

5. Fish consumption is linked to reduced risk of autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes

Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues. A key example is type 1 diabetes, which involves the immune system attacking the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Several studies have found that omega-3 or fish oil consumption is linked to reduced risk of type 1 diabetes in children, as well as a form of autoimmune diabetes in adults.

The results are preliminary, but researchers believe that this may be caused by the omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in fish and fish oils. Some believe that fish consumption may also lower the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, but the current evidence is weak at best.

BOTTOM LINE:

Eating fish has been linked to reduced risk of type 1 diabetes and several other autoimmune diseases.

Agencies