10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Eating Fish
Fish is among the healthiest foods on the planet.It’s loaded with important nutrients, such as protein and vitamin D.Fish is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are incredibly important for your body and brain.
Here are 10 health benefits of eating fish that are supported by research.
1. High in important nutrients
Fish is packed with many nutrients that most people are lacking.This includes high-quality protein, iodine, and various vitamins and minerals.Fatty species are sometimes considered the healthiest. That’s because fatty fish, including salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, and mackerel, are higher in fat-based nutrients.
This includes vitamin D, a fat-soluble nutrient that many people are lacking.Fatty fish also boast omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for optimal body and brain function and strongly linked to a reduced risk of many diseases.To meet your omega-3 requirements, eating fatty fish at least once or twice a week is recommended. If you are a vegan, opt for omega-3 supplements made from microalgae.
2. May lower your risk of heart attacks and strokes
Heart attacks and strokes are the two most common causes of premature death in the world.Fish is considered one of the most heart-healthy foods you can eat.Unsurprisingly, many large observational studies show that people who eat fish regularly have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart disease.In one study in more than 40,000 men in the United States, those who regularly ate one or more servings of fish per week had a 15% lower risk of heart disease.Researchers believe that fatty types of fish are even more beneficial for heart health due to their high omega-3 fatty acid content.
3. Contain nutrients that are crucial during development
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for growth and development.The omega-3 fat docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is especially important for brain and eye development.For this reason, it’s often recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women eat enough omega-3 fatty acids.
However, some fish are high in mercury, which is linked to brain developmental problems.Thus, pregnant women should only eat low-mercury fish, such as salmon, sardines, and trout, and no more than 12 ounces (340 grams) per week.They should also avoid raw and uncooked fish because it may contain microorganisms that can harm the fetus.
4. May boost brain health
While mild mental decline is normal, serious neurodegenerative ailments like Alzheimer’s disease also exist.Many observational studies show that people who eat more fish have slower rates of mental decline.Studies also reveal that people who eat fish every week have more gray matter — your brain’s major functional tissue — in the parts of the brain that regulate emotion and memory.
5. May help prevent and treat depression
Depression is a common mental condition.It’s characterized by low mood, sadness, decreased energy, and loss of interest in life and activities.Although it isn’t discussed nearly as much as heart disease or obesity, depression is currently one of the world’s biggest health problems.
Studies have found that people who eat fish regularly are much less likely to become depressed.Numerous controlled trials also reveal that omega-3 fatty acids may fight depression and significantly increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.Fish and omega-3 fatty acids may also aid other mental conditions, such as bipolar disorder
6. A good dietary sources of vitamin D
Vitamin D functions like a steroid hormone in your body — and a whopping 41.6% of the U.S. population is deficient or low in it.Fish and fish products are among the best dietary sources of vitamin D. Fatty fish like salmon and herring contain the highest amounts.A single 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of cooked salmon packs around 100% of the recommended intake of vitamin D.
Some fish oils, such as cod liver oil, are also very high in vitamin D, providing more than 200% of the Daily Value (DV) in a single tablespoon (15 ml).If you don’t get much sun and don’t eat fatty fish regularly, you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.
7. May reduce your risk of autoimmune diseases
Autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues.Several studies link omega-3 or fish oil intake to a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes in children, as well as a form of autoimmune diabetes in adults.The omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in fish and fish oils may be responsible.Some experts believe that fish intake may also lower your risk of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, but the current evidence is weak at best.
8. May help prevent asthma in children
Asthma is a common disease characterized by chronic inflammation of your airways.Rates of this condition have increased dramatically over the past few decades.Studies show that regular fish consumption is linked to a 24% lower risk of asthma in children, but no significant effect has been found in adults.
9. May protect your vision in old age
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness that mostly affects older adults.Some evidence suggests that fish and omega-3 fatty acids may protect against this disease.In one study, regular fish intake was linked to a 42% lower risk of AMD in women.Another study found that eating fatty fish once per week was linked to a 53% decreased risk of neovascular.
10. Fish may improve sleep quality
Sleep disorders have become incredibly common worldwide.Increased exposure to blue light may play a role, but some researchers believe that vitamin D deficiency may also be involved.In a 6-month study in 95 middle-aged men, a meal with salmon 3 times per week led to improvements in both sleep and daily functioning.The researchers speculated that this was caused by the vitamin D content.