Fish reduces depression, stress and anxiety, according to a new research. Scientists at the University of South Australia recently discovered that people who follow a certain kind of marine diet were happier, less stressed with an improved quality of life compared to those who ate fish fewer times.
During the study, 82 adults with depression, aged between18-65 were recruited after which an assessment on mental health and quality of life was carried out using scales to assess depression and anxiety. And now more experts agree that emphasis should be put on the nutritional importance of fish rather than size.
Joseph Mbabazi, a nutritionist, says common fish such as Nile Perch, Tilapia, Silver Fish and Sambaza are reliable sources of vital nutrients.
Mbabazi explains that although the most important nutrients — Omega-3-fatty acids — can be found in a few plants, a regular fish diet is more reliable.
“These fatty acids are considered essential to human health because of their role in maintaining body structures,” Mbabazi says.
He, however, maintains that since such nutrients cannot be synthesized by our bodies, the only source is the food we eat.
“This is why everyone needs a fish meal,” Mbabazi says. “Structurally, Omega-3-fatty acids are oriented in such a way that makes them useful in constructing vital body organs.”
“Because they have a polyunsaturated structure, omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, normal growth and body development,” says Audrey Mutabazi, a food science consultant.
According to Mutabazi, Omega 3 fatty acids in fish have gained popularity because of their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Mutabazi cites fatty acids such as linoleic and linolenic as being crucial in preventing skin diseases.
“It is not worth spending time and money on cosmetics yet you can obtain this in food,” he says.
How often to eat fish
When it comes to marine fish, fatty acids constitute only around two percent of the total lipids.
This is why the American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna, and salmon) at least 2 times a week.
Also research published in The Lancet, a medical journal, explains how women’s health improves from consumption of marine sourced long chain omega-3 fatty acids.
The publication indicates that there is a reduction in morbidity, coronary heart and cardiovascular disease, mental health including depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, dysmenorrhoea and infant cognitive development.
Composition of fish
You can now eat more fish than meat because the fisheries and aquaculture department of Food and Agricultural Organization, points out that the protein content of most fish averages 15 to 20 percent.
But this is still with significant amounts of all essential amino acids, particularly lysine in which cereals are relatively poor.
For that purpose, fish protein can be used to complement the amino acid pattern and improve the overall protein quality of a mixed diet. Moreover, the sensory properties of an otherwise bland diet can be enhanced through fish products, thus facilitating and contributing to greater consumption.
Whereas cereal grains are usually low in lysine and sulphur-containing amino acids (methionine and cysteine), fish is an excellent source of these acids. A fish supplement can significantly raise the biological value of a cereal-based diet.
But more so about fish is the fact that it is a good source of the B vitamins and, in the case of fatty species, of A and D vitamins there is an enhanced bioavailability of nutrients.
As for minerals, fish meat is a particularly valuable source of calcium and phosphorus as well as iron, copper and selenium. Saltwater fish have a high content of iodine.
In addition to essential amino acids and proteins, fish nutritional attributes relate to the quality of lipids and vitamin and mineral content.
Although researchers point out that fish is of nutritional importance especially regarding brain function, this group of experts suggest that to achieve maximum nutrition benefits and deal with depression, fish needs to be combined with plant-based foods such as vegetables, legumes, fruit, nuts, seeds and olives, extra virgin olive oil, fish, with moderate red wine intake (Mediterranean diet).