10 reasons to include more fish in your diet

fishFish is among the healthiest foods available, providing an excellent source of protein while delivering important nutrients.

There is no better way to make sure you get the omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D your body needs to function properly.

Eating fish once or twice each week is sufficient to ensure you will reap the health benefits of this nutrient-dense food.

Check out these ten reasons to add fish to your weekly menu.

  1. Fat-Based Nutrients Many People Don’t Get Adequate Amounts of Are Abundant in Fish

Fish is super-healthy, and some types of fish pack a more powerful nutritional punch than others.

Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna are superior sources of fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin D, which many people don’t get enough of. This vitamin acts like a steroid hormone in our bodies, triggering integral mechanisms throughout the body.

For optimal function of both brain and body, omega-3 fatty acids are essential, and few foods in the modern diet are as rich in these as fatty fish. (1)

  1. Adding Fish to Your Diet Can Decrease Your Risk of Stroke and Heart Attack

Stroke and heart attack account for the two most common causes of death worldwide. (2)

Eating fish is one of the simplest dietary actions you can take to protect your heart.

Observational studies indicate that people who eat fish regularly appear to have a decreased risk of stroke, heart attacks and premature death from heart disease. (3, 4, 5, 6)

On study analyzed data collected from more than 40,000 males working in professional fields; those who ate fish at least once weekly enjoyed a 15% lower risk of developing heart disease. (7)

  1. Beneficial Effects of Fatty Fish May Help You Keep Your Marbles

Age-related cognitive decline is often results as people grow older, and is considered “normal.”

More serious cognitive issues on the rise include Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders like dementia.

While observational studies can’t provide the quality of scientific data obtained through clinical trials, it appears that people who eat more fish suffer cognitive decline at lower rates than those who don’t. (8)

Grey matter in the brain comprises the majority of functional neuronal tissue; controlled trials indicate regular fish-eaters have more grey matter in the sections of the brain that deal with emotions and memory. (9)

  1. Fish is Rich in Nutrients Crucial to Development

Expectant mothers are advised to include fatty fish in their diets because the omega-3 fatty acids are vital for the proper development of the fetus. (10)

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the fatty acids present in fatty fish, and this substance accumulates in the developing eyes and brain tissue of growing infants. (11)

It’s important for pregnant women to make sure fish isn’t high in mercury levels, because this can cause developmental problems. Eating less than 12 ounces weekly of fish lower on the food chain, such as sardines, trout and salmon, is the general recommendation.

Shushi should be off-limits during pregnancy; microorganisms that may harm the fetus can be present in raw fish.

  1. Beneficial Compounds in Fish Can Help Prevent and Treat Depression

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates more than 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (12)

This increasingly common mental disorder often manifests as a lack of interest in normal activities, low moods, frequent feelings of sadness, and reduced energy levels.

The incidence of depression among people who regularly consume fish is much lower than in those who don’t. (13)

Many clinical trials indicate omega-3 fatty acids such as those in fatty fish are effective in fighting depression, as well as enhancing antidepressant medications. (14)

Eating fish may even decrease symptoms of other mental conditions, including bipolar disorder. (15)

  1. Fish Consumption May Decrease the Risk of Autoimmune Diseases

When the immune system attacks body tissues through a misguided response, the result is immune disorders like type 1 diabetes. Insulin-producing cells located in the pancreas are destroyed by such attacks, and the result is youth-onset diabetes.

Data from several studies showed children were less likely to develop the disease if they took fish oil supplements or regularly ate fatty fish. (16, 17, 18)

Preliminary results from other studies suggest eating fish may also lower the risk of developing multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. (19, 20)

  1. Dietary Intake of Fish May Help Decrease the Risk of Developing Asthma

The chronic inflammation of airways referred to as asthma is becoming more common over recent decades. (21)

While fish consumption doesn’t appear to affect the rates at which adults develop asthma, it seems to act as a preventive measure in children.

Children who eat fish develop asthma 24% less often than those who don’t. (22)

  1. Fish Is the Richest Dietary Source of Vitamin D

With a shocking 41.6% of Americans deficient in vitamin D (23), it’s no wonder public awareness of the widespread deficiency is growing.

It’s difficult to get the recommended amount of vitamin D from food, but fatty fish like herring and salmon are loaded with it. (24)

A 4-ounce serving of salmon delivers all the vitamin D in the daily RDI (25); a tablespoon of cod liver oil provides double that. (26)

Those who aren’t able to eat fish regularly may want to supplement vitamin D to protect against deficiencies that can cause serious health issues.

  1. You May Sleep Better If You Eat Fish

Not getting enough sleep can contribute to a range of health problems, and sleep deprivation, along with clinically diagnosed sleep disorders, is on the rise.

Low levels of vitamin D may be a contributing factor to this alarming trend. (27)

When the sleep habits of nearly a hundred men were monitored following the addition of fatty fish to their diets three times weekly, improvements were noted in sleep patterns as well as efficiency in daily functioning. (28)

  1. Potential Protection for Eyesight

Macular degeneration is a common health issue that affects many people as they age. It’s the most common cause of impaired vision and blindness in the elderly population. (29)

Eating fish rich in omega-3 acids may decrease your chances of developing macular degeneration.

One study indicated women who ate fish were 42% less likely to be diagnosed with the disease. (30)

Another study found that fish consumption once weekly was linked with a decreased risk of developing a form of the disorder known as neovascular macular degeneration. (31)

Recap

Not only is fish healthy, but it’s also simple to prepare and a tasty addition to your diet. Wild fish delivers the most nutrition, but farmed fish can also dramatically bump up the nutritional profile of your diet.

Summary: Fatty fish in the diet can add significant amounts of vital nutrients like vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases, improve sleep, fight depression, and even help you stay sharp and cheerful.

References:

  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2004.00552.x/full
  2. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22682084/
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21914258/
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23112118
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24405571
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19064523
  8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16216930
  9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25084680
  10. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18184094/
  11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18184094/
  12. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/
  13. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976923/
  14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17685742
  15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21903025
  16. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14668274
  17. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14668274/
  18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4216999/
  19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4201724/
  20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24158977
  21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3522136/
  22. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827145/
  23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21310306
  24. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25466665
  25. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4541
  26. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/702
  27. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22583560/
  28. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4013386/
  29. https://nei.nih.gov/health/maculardegen/armd_facts
  30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3134638/
  31. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/2/398.long
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