Current research indicates that substituting ‘oily’ fish for red meat just once per week can be one of the best dietary changes you can make for your health. In fact, consuming just two servings (approximately 270 grams) of fish a week can reduce the risk of heart disease by almost a third. Oily fish (such as salmon, herring, mackerel and trout) are widely considered to be nature’s own nutrient-dense super food as they are low in fat and a rich source of iron, protein, vitamin B-12 and omega-3 oils. Here are eight great reasons why you should be including more fish in your weekly diet:
1. Reduce the risk of heart disease
The results of a recent clinical trial published in the American Journal of Physiology have proven a direct correlation between people with higher levels of fish oil and lower stress levels on the heart. The study demonstrated that participants who substituted fish oil for olive oil had reduced levels of triglycerides in the blood (a chemical commonly associated with causing heart disease). In addition, the omega-3 oils have been shown to help reduce blood clots and inflammation, lower blood pressure and boost good cholesterol, reducing the risk of stroke and other cardio vascular diseases. Bake or grill the fish, but don’t fry.
2. Decrease the risk of prostate cancer
A Swedish study of around 6000 men over a 30-year period demonstrated that men who did not eat fish almost tripled the risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those that did. Among many other nutrients, fish is a good source of selenium, a chemical believed to have cancer-fighting properties, particularly against cancer of the oral cavity, oesophagus, colon, breast, ovary as well as the prostate. Salmon, tuna and herring help prevent prostate cancer.
3. Reduce tissue inflammation
The high levels of omega-3 oils found in fish help to reduce tissue inflammation, thereby alleviating some of the symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as autoimmune diseases, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oil have been shown to promote overall cardiovascular health as well as increasing lung capacity. This is good news for asthma sufferers, who are 31% less likely to reach for the inhaler during exercise when they are exposed to a fish-oil rich diet.
Recent research has indicated that including oily fish in the weekly diet, particularly in the case of young children, is likely to decrease the risk of developing asthma throughout their lives. Consider eating asparagus with salmon at least once a week. Asparagus has incredible anti-inflammatory effects and it’s an excellent source of antioxidants.
4. Good for babies’ brain development
The research confirming the health benefits of omega-3 oils in a baby’s development are undoubted. A study conducted in 2003 and published in the Journal of Pediatrics concluded that mothers who took fish oil supplements during pregnancy and lactation increased their children’s cognitive abilities at 4 years of age. Another study in 2005 showed that schoolchildren who had a diet high in fish oil performed better overall in their reading and spelling scores. As a baby’s brain grows fastest prenatally and continues to grow most rapidly in the first year of life, this is the ideal time for a baby to be exposed to the benefits of fish in their diet.
5. Maintain good eyesight
Research has suggested that the high levels of omega-3 in oily fish can help to protect the eyesight of those suffering from age related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition causing blurry eyesight usually found in older adults as a result of damage to the retina. Fish also contains retinol, a form of vitamin A which has been known to boost night vision. Eat your favorite fish with grilled or steamed vegetables at least once a week to maintain good eyesight.
6. Good for skin complexion
Not only has it been shown that omega-3 oils help to protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV sunlight damage, but consuming fish alongside a balanced diet can also alleviate the symptoms of other skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Fish is also a great source of protein, which is an essential ingredient of collagen, a chemical which keeps the skin supple and firm. Serve your fish with bell peppers, and enjoy a perfect skin.
7. Keep a positive outlook
Depression has been linked to low levels of the chemical serotonin in the brain. The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are linked to an increase in the levels of serotonin, aiding in the reduction of the incidence of depression. Incorporate more fish, vegetables and superfoods into your weekly eating plan to stay positive and healthy.
8. It tastes great!
Whether you steam, poach, barbeque, bake or grill it, any of these options can be applied to a fresh piece of fish with great tasting results. Even adding it to a simple stir fry or pasta dish can result in a quick and healthy meal as well as allow access to the myriad of nutritional benefits it has.
If you want your family to be healthy, make sure you incorporate different types of fish into your weekly meal plan. Salmon, tuna or herring are all healthy options. There are hundreds of tasty fish recipes so you will never get bored eating fish. Just don’t fry fish, or your meal will be absolutely unhealthy. What are your favorite fish recipes? Share them with us, please.