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Fish is highly nutritious. Bursting with vitamins and minerals, and a chief source of omega-3 fatty acids, eating at least two servings of fish weekly can help to protect against an array of diseases, from cancer and heart disease, to depression  and arthritis. Not only does it contain fewer calories and unsaturated fatty acids which lower cholesterol, it is an excellent source of protein and is better than most meat sources (which are generally high in “bad” or saturated fat). Fish consumption is an essential source of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients keep our heart and brain healthy. Two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Our bodies don’t produce omega-3 fatty acids so they must be gotten from the foods we eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish, but in especially high quantities in fatty fish. Some good choices are salmon, trout, sardines, herring, canned mackerel, canned light tuna, and oysters. Consequently, regular inclusion of fish in your diet as research findings indicate can bring about the following health benefits:
  • Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to the health of brain tissue and the retina (the back of the eye).
  • Elderly people who eat fish or seafood at least once a week may have a lower risk of developing diabetes and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Fish helps to maintain a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure, regulating blood clotting and vessel constriction as well as reducing the risk of heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, and strokes.
  • Fish consumption may reduce tissue inflammation and alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • In children, eating fish may improve learning ability and reduce the development of asthma.
  • Fish consumption helps lower incidences of depression (depression is linked to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain).
  • They are important for prenatal and postnatal neurological development.
While it is recommended to eat one to two fish meals a week, a smart move will be to avoid fish high in mercury. Excess mercury, affects the nervous system, causing numb or tingling fingers, lips and toes; developmental delays in walking and talking in children; muscle and joint pain and increased risk of heart attack. Fish high in mercury include shark, swordfish (broadbill) and marlin, ray, gemfish, ling, orange roughy (sea perch) and southern blue fin tuna. As a result, pregnant women, nursing mothers, women planning pregnancy and children up to six years old should avoid these fish. Keep in mind that any fish can be unhealthy depending on how it’s prepared. For example, broiling or baking fish is a healthier option than is deep-frying. Other healthy ways to prepare fish are steaming, shallow frying, grilling and poaching. All-in-all, fish is healthy food and can be safely eaten in most cases.

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This article was first published on 19th June 2013 and updated on July 28th, 2013 at 12:11 pm

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