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October 31, 2019 | Abigail Mckay

Health Benefits of Eating Fish

Fish is a source of high proteins and low-fat. This class of food has been aptly categorized as a ‘super-food’ because of the endless list of health benefits associated with it. White-fleshed fish is the healthiest (in terms of lowest fat content) compared to any other source of animal protein.

The most important characteristic attributed to this class of protein is its richness in ‘good’ fats. Good fats are omega-3s and omega-6s, also known as essential fats. Bad fats, on the other hand, are polyunsaturated fats.

Essential fats make up a class of fats that the human body can not synthesize on its own and therefore needs an external source of. Non-essential fats are fats that the human body can make on its own and therefore does not need outside sources of.

General Consensus

Fish and shellfish are an integral part of many people’s diets due to the numerous health benefits derived from seafood. The Mediterranean diet prioritizes seafood, especially heart-healthy fish, as a foundational element.

Why is it that some people refuse to get on board with this heart-healthy food? The general consensus is because of possible toxins, mercury content, and contamination from bacteria; all of which can be consequences of poorly chosen seafood.

Fish: The Good and The Bad

Fish is an excellent source of many beneficial nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and selenium.  They also provide protein, a vital part of a well-rounded diet.

In particular, omega-3 fats aid heart health, such as lowering blood pressure and heart rate.  Also, healthy fats reduce cholesterol levels, specifically triglycerides.

Cholesterol is what can build up in arteries, which can cause narrowing, thus leading to a heart attack or a stroke.  While these are substantial benefits, some people cannot get past the possible risks.

For a person who is on the fence regarding the consumption of fish, it comes down to deciding whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

As mentioned above, there are a few risks when eating seafood.  Toxins like mercury are high in certain types of seafood, such as tuna, mackerel, swordfish, and marlin. Particular types of seafood also have a risk of bacterial growth, especially raw fish and shellfish like oysters, scallops, and clams.

In addition, some people steer clear of fish simply because they are unsure of how to cook it.  Whatever the case, there are some ways to boost your desire to integrate more seafood into your diet.

The strong connection between heart health and seafood is evident, so let’s give you peace of mind about the doubts surrounding seafood.

Omega 3 In Fish: How Eating Fish Helps Your Heart

There is increasing evidence that suggests numerous health benefits of omega-3s. Some of which include:

  • help keep up cardiovascular well-being by maintaining blood coagulation under control
  • significance in prenatal and postnatal neurological events
  • lessen tissue irritation and reduce the manifestations of rheumatoid joint inflammation
  • prevent cardiovascular arrhythmia (sporadic heartbeat)
  • Lessening depression and slow mental decline in older individuals

The omega-3s found in fish (EPA and DHA) seem to give the best medical advantages.

Fatty Acids in Fish

The utilization of white-fleshed fish, including salmon, sardines and mackerel, has been connected to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases because of the omega 3 - unsaturated fats eicosapentaenoic corrosive (EPA) and docosahexaenoic corrosive (DHA).

Some plant-based sources of omega 3, for example, flax seeds and pecans, are wealthy in another, third kind of omega-3 fat: ALA. A recent report suggests that the heart received several advantages from plant-based omega 3 that might be equivalent to EPA and DHA.

Both EPA and DHA play significant roles in human digestion, however, we can't make them adequately in our bodies, so it's truly critical to have them as a component of our eating regimen.

DHA is plentiful in our brain, retinas and other specific tissues. Alongside EPA, it assists with warding off irritation in the body, which is connected to a higher danger of coronary illness, disease and diabetes.

Fish Supplements: Vitamins and Minerals in Fish

One approach to stay away from mercury toxicity while still getting omega 3 is to take fish oil supplements. Nonetheless, research as of late on omega-3 enhancements and supplements discovered they don't have a similar impact as eating white-fleshed fish.

Brain Health and Fish

Besides omega-3, fish has other valuable supplements, including selenium, which shields cells from harm and disease; iodine, which upholds solid digestion; and protein.

Fish has for some time been hailed as a "mind food". A new report proposes this isn't simply on account of its omega-3 substance – although reviews have additionally discovered a connection between omega-3 and slower intellectual decay.

Considerations to Make

1. Steer Clear of Fish with a High Mercury Content

Nearly all sources of seafood have some degree of mercury, but the fish with high mercury content has been listed above. Pregnant women and young children should steer clear of seafood unless otherwise indicated by their physician.  

Mercury poisoning can occur if you are ingesting large quantities of seafood for extended periods.  Although rare, symptoms include memory problems, numbness, and tremors.  

12 ounces of seafood per week is encouraged, which is the equivalent of 2 meals.

2. Avoid Raw Seafood

Oysters are the typical seafood item that is eaten raw.  There is always a chance of a vibrio spp infection, which is an infection that can be acquired from raw oysters and causes vomiting and diarrhea.  In severe cases, the infection can become systemic.

If you enjoy consuming oysters and do not plan to stop eating them, it is essential to be aware of the risks involved.  

3. Grill, Bake or Sauté Seafood

There are a variety of ways to cook seafood that are simple and quick.  Do not be turned away from eating seafood because you are afraid to learn a new cooking technique. Maybe even consider a cooking class to make it fun!

Fish and Demographics

  • For young children and women of childbearing age, increased consumption of mercury-tainted fish can seriously affect a baby's development
  • Individuals at high risks of cardiovascular diseases should gauge the potential hazard of eating fish high in PCBs with the advantages of eating fish high in omega-3s; in which case the advantages of omega-3s may exceed the disease hazard.

Consult a Physician and a Dietician

For more information on the health benefits of fish, consult a dietician. To better understand how you can incorporate omega-3s into your system to maintain a healthy and viable living, consult your physician.

Health is a multi-sector field. Consult with experts on how you can live life to its fullest.

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Abigail Mckay

Abigail has been a nurse for five years, and throughout her time as a nurse, she has worked in multiple medical-surgical units as well as spent time in the infusion therapy clinic and endoscopy lab. She is passionate about preventative medicine through patient education regarding nutrition and exercise. Due to her passion, Abigail has gone on to earn two certifications including a certification in medical-surgical nursing (CMSRN) and a certification in holistic nursing (HNB-BC), in hopes of being able to better serve her patients. Abigail earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA and now bettering patient education in the healthcare system through partnering with American TelePhysicians.