Eat fish for brain and heart health.
Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to meal planning? How many days does dinnertime roll around and you find yourself scrambling to throw something together? Chances are your family’s go-to main dishes include chicken or red meat. This week, try something different and eat fish for two of your meals. With many kinds to choose from and dozens of ways to prepare it, fish is an easy and healthy option that many people forget about.
Why should you include fish in your diet and are there types of fish to avoid?
You’re about to find out.
Protect Your Heart
While red meat contributes to heart disease, fish has the opposite effect. The combination of the omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients in fish has amazing benefits for the health of your heart. Heart disease may be a leading cause of death, but by simply eating a few servings of fatty fish each week, you can greatly reduce your risk of suffering from the disease or having a fatal heart attack.
Inflammation is harmful to blood vessels and contributes to heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that reduce inflammation in the body. Omega-3s reduce your risk for heart attack or stroke by lowering blood pressure, reducing triglycerides, slowing blood clotting, and regulating heartbeat.
Fish containing the most omega-3 fatty acids are known as fatty fish and include salmon, herring, tuna, sardines, and lake trout. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements provide some heart health benefits but not as much as those offered when you actually eat fish.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may improve your memory. Without enough of this type of unsaturated fat, your brain decreases its production of dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for memory. So, before your next exam or office presentation, eat salmon for dinner.
Pregnant women should be sure to include fatty fish in their diet. Omega-3s are important for the healthy brain and nervous system development of babies. Eating several servings of seafood each week during pregnancy may improve a baby’s verbal IQ, social development, and communication and fine motor skills.
It’s common for elderly people to slowly lose their eyesight. But the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may slow this degenerative process, keeping the retina healthy and strong.
Fend off Rheumatoid Arthritis
Painful, swollen, aching joints characterize rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. The anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to drastically reduce one’s risk of developing this debilitating disease. One study revealed women’s risk of rheumatoid arthritis was cut in half by eating just one serving of fatty fish a week.
The anti-inflammatory effect of omega-3 fatty acids may also improve breathing. According to one study, kids who eat fish are less likely to develop asthma, especially the asthma induced by exercise called bronchoconstriction.
Good Fish/Bad Fish
Eat fish for good health, but be picky about the type you eat. You’ve heard the health dangers associated with the mercury, contaminants, or pesticides found in many types of fish.
Avoid excess exposure to mercury by eating only one to two servings a week of chunk light tuna rather than albacore. Large fish such as shark, swordfish, and king mackerel are also high in mercury, so limit your number of servings. Pregnant women and young children should avoid fish high in mercury.
When eating salmon, choose wild salmon rather than farm-raised, since farm-raised fish contain more contaminants, antibiotics, and pesticides.
Imported shrimp is high on the list of dirty, contaminated foods. Also, imported catfish is likely to be filled with antibiotics, so buy domestic shrimp and catfish if possible. Or go catch your own!