Fish is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It is loaded with important nutrients such as protein and vitamin D. Fish is also the best source in the world of omega-3 fatty acids, which are incredibly important for the body and brain. Listed below are 11 health benefits of eating fish that are supported by the research.
1. Fish is High in Important Nutrients That Most People Don’t Get Enough:
In general, all types of fish are good for health. Fish contain high amounts of various nutrients, which most people don’t get enough. This includes: high quality protein, iodine, various vitamins and minerals. However, some fish are better than others, and fatty fish are considered the healthiest. This is because fatty fish (such as salmon, trout, sardine, tuna and mackerel) have higher amounts of unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. This includes fat-soluble vitamin D, a nutrient that most people lack. This vitamin works like a steroid hormone in the body. Fatty fish also contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are crucial for the body and brain to function under optimal conditions, and these fatty acids are strongly linked to a lower risk of suffering from many diseases. To meet the needs of omega-3, it is recommended to eat fatty fish at least once or twice a week.
Summary: Fish has high amounts of various important nutrients, including high quality protein, iodine and various vitamins and minerals. In addition, fatty fish have high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
2. Eating Fish May Decrease the Risk of Heart Attacks and Strokes:
Heart attacks and strokes are the two most common causes of premature death worldwide.
“Generally, fish is considered to be among the best foods that can be eaten to have 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. A study of more than 40,000 male health professionals in the United States, deduced that those who regularly eat one or more servings of fish per week had a 15% lower risk of heart disease. Researchers believe that fatty fish are even more beneficial for heart health, due to their high amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Summary: Eating at least one serving of fish per week has been linked to a lower 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 the growth and healthy development of the human body. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), DocosaHexaenoic Acid, is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid of the omega-3 series, which is vital because it is stored in the brain and in the eye promoting optimal development. For this reason, it is often recommended that pregnant and nursing women make sure they eat enough omega-3 fatty acids. However, there is a warning about recommending fish to pregnant women. Some fish have high amounts of mercury, which ironically is linked to problems in brain development. For this reason, pregnant women should only eat fish that are in the low food chain (salmon, sardines, trout, etc.) and no more than 340 grams (12 ounces) per week. Pregnant women should also avoid raw and uncooked fish (including sushi), as it may contain microorganisms that can harm the fetus.
Summary: Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is essential for the development of the brain and eyes. It is recommended that pregnant and lactating women make sure they eat enough omega-3s, however they should try to consume fish that are in the low food chain, to avoid consuming mercury.
4. Fish Can Increase Gray Matter in the Brain and Protect it From Age-Related Degradation:
One of the consequences of aging is that brain function is often impaired (known as age-related cognitive impairment). This is normal in many cases, but there are also serious neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Interestingly, many observational studies have shown that people who eat more fish have slower rates of cognitive decline. A mechanism could be related to gray matter in the brain. Gray matter is the main functional tissue of the brain, which contains the neurons that process information, store memories and make you human. Studies have shown that people who eat fish every week have more gray matter in the foci of the brain that regulate emotion and memory.
Summary: The consumption of fish helps the deterioration of brain function linked to old age to have less impact. People who eat fish regularly also have more gray matter in the brain centers that control memory and emotion.
5. Eating Fish Can Help Prevent and Treat Depression, So You’ll Be Happier:
Depression is a serious and incredibly common mental disorder. It is characterized by a low mood, sadness, lack of energy and loss of interest in daily life and activities. Although there is hardly any talk about other diseases, be it heart or obesity, depression is currently one of the biggest health problems in the world. Studies have found that people who eat fish regularly are less likely to get depressed. Numerous controlled trials have also found that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial against depression and significantly increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. This means that fish can literally make a person happier and improve their quality of life. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids can also help with other mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
Summary: Omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial against depression, either by themselves or in combination with antidepressant medications.
6. Fish is the Only Dietary Source of Vitamin D:
Vitamin D has received a lot of attention particularly in recent years. This important vitamin really works as a steroid hormone in the body, and a huge 41.6% of the population in the United States is deficient in this vitamin. Fish and fish products are the best dietary sources of vitamin D, and by far. Fatty fish such as salmon and herring contain the highest amounts of vitamin D. A single serving of 4 ounces (113 grams) of cooked salmon, contains about 100% of the recommended intake of vitamin D. Some fish oils, such as cod liver oil, are also very rich in vitamin D, providing more than 200% of the recommended intake in a single tablespoon. If you don’t get much sun and don’t eat fatty fish regularly, you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
Summary: Fatty fish is an excellent source of vitamin D, an important nutrient that more than 40% of people may be deficient.
7. Fish Consumption is Related to a Lower Risk of Autoimmune Diseases, Including Type 1 Diabetes:
An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues. A key example is type 1 diabetes, when the immune system attacks the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Several studies have found that the consumption of omega-3 or fish oil is related to a lower risk of suffering from type 1 diabetes in children, which is also a form of autoimmune diabetes in adults. The results are preliminary, but the researchers believe that this may be due to omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in fish and fish oils. Some believe that fish consumption may also reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, but current evidence is weak at best.
Summary: Eating fish has been linked to a lower risk of type 1 diabetes and several other autoimmune diseases.
8. Eating Fish Can Help Prevent Asthma in Children:
Asthma is a common disease that is characterized by chronic inflammation in the airways. Unfortunately, asthma rates have increased dramatically in recent decades. Studies show that eating fish regularly is related to a 24% lower risk of children suffering from asthma, but no significant effect has been found in adults.
Summary: Some studies show that children who eat more fish have a lower risk of developing asthma.
9. Eating Fish Can Protect Vision in Old Age:
A disease called age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of impaired vision and blindness, which mainly affects older people. There is evidence that fish and omega-3 fatty acids can provide protection against this disease. In one study, regular fish consumption was associated with a 42% lower risk of macular degeneration in women. Another study found that eating fatty fish once a week was associated with a 53% decrease in the risk of exudative AMD, also known as wet or neovascular.
Summary: People who eat more fish have a much lower risk of developing macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of impaired vision and blindness.
10. Eating Fish Can Improve Sleep Quality:
Sleep disorders have become incredibly common throughout the world. There are many different reasons for such disorders, for example: increased exposure to blue light, but some researchers believe that vitamin D deficiency can also play an important role. A 6-month study in 95 middle-aged men ate salmon three times a week; as a result improvements were obtained in both sleep and daytime development. The researchers speculated that this was thanks to vitamin D in salmon.
Summary: There is preliminary evidence that eating fatty fish such as salmon can lead to better sleep quality.
11. Fish is Delicious and Easy to Prepare:
This last point is not a health benefit, but it is still very important. The fact that fish is delicious and easy to prepare, makes it essential in any regular diet. For this reason, incorporating fish consumption into your diet should be relatively easy. Eating fish 1-2 times a week is considered sufficient to obtain the benefits. If possible, choose fish caught in a wild environment instead of those raised. Wild fish tend to have more omega-3s and are less likely to be contaminated. In spite of eating farmed fish, the benefits obtained still far outweigh the risks that could be obtained from eating such fish. All types of fish are good for health.