The Basic Health Benefits of Fish

Fish is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, protein and minerals. Research has found that eating more fish has the effect of lowering the rate of a number of diseases. The nutrients found in fish not only prevent the onset of disease, but also help certain systems of the body to function more efficiently.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These are unsaturated fatty acids of which there are several forms, including α-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Fish is a particularly good source of DHA and EPA. These two omega-3 fatty acids have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects which are important for fighting and preventing conditions such as cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce the risk of:

  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Premature births

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to aid in brain function and development. They are important for vision, as they have been implicated in the maintenance of the retina. This is the tissue at the back of the eye responsible for generating and sending messages to the brain regarding visual information.

The human body cannot synthesize its own supply of omega-3 fatty acids, so an adequate intake from the diet is necessary. Most types of oily fish are good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. The highest sources, however, include:

  • Sardines
  • Fresh Atlantic salmon
  • Trout

Fish Protein Prevents Diabetes

Research has found that it may not be a bad idea to include fish in your diet if you have diabetes. The blood sugar levels of those with diabetes is not well regulated by the body. The protein content of fish seems to work to regulate blood sugar.

Vitamins and Minerals

Fish is a great source of vitamins such as niacin. Niacin is a water soluble vitamin also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid. Niacin helps to raise HDL ‘good’ cholesterol levels, the proper function of the skin, nerves and digestive system. Including fish regularly in your diet will also ensure that you maintain the necessary levels of minerals such as selenium and iodine. Selenium is required to allow certain enzymes to function, particularly those that have antioxidant activity. It also helps the thyroid gland to function. Iodine is required by the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormones, which in turn are involved in regulating the body’s metabolic rate.

Controversy Surrounding Fish Consumption

There has been a long-standing controversy regarding eating fish and the potential toxicity from contaminants such as mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). While toxicity is possible, researchers have found it to be rare. Recent studies have shown that the benefits from eating fish far outweigh any risk of toxicity.

Fish not only tastes good, but includes a wide range of health benefits. These include being a good source for Omega-3 fatty acids which prevent numerous diseases. Fish is also a great source of vitamins and minerals which help the body in its day to day functions.

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