oily fish – healthy superfoods – by Dr. Alberto Parra
They are an essential part of the Mediterranean Diet, an excellent replacement for red meats, and the primary source of many health and beauty supplements. Consuming more fish is one of the recommendations people usually get after a cardiovascular episode, blood lipid problems and even some inflammatory conditions. But, why is that? Is consuming fish as good as people say? Is there any science behind such advice?
Fats can be good as well
We typically think fats are no good, they contribute to obesity, they build up arterial plaques, and they are responsible for strokes and heart attacks. However, there are healthy fats and essential fatty acids we should never stop consuming in the diet. That’s the case of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. But even more important than consuming them is being careful in keeping a healthy ratio between omega 3 and omega 6. Foods will be healthier if they have very high levels of omega 3 and only some omega 6, which is the proportion we can find in fish. Oily fish is a reliable source of omega 3 fatty acids, and that’s the main reason why they hold numerous health benefits we will review:
Improves your cardiovascular health: According to studies, consuming oily fish with its high content in omega 3 fatty acids reduces the incidence of death from cardiovascular disease. It has a cardioprotective effect on your heart because it helps you control your blood lipid levels and your coagulation rate. There is a good cholesterol (HDL) and a bad cholesterol molecule (LDL), and omega 3 reduces the concentration of triglycerides while increasing your good cholesterol. Having more HDL will prevent the building up of arterial plaques in your blood vessels and the incidence of stroke and heart disease.
Modulates your immune system and inflammation: It is known that omega 3 in oily fish has a potent anti-inflammatory potential capable of improving several gastrointestinal diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Eating more fish is one of the dietary advices for patients with autoimmune diseases like arthritis because it modulates the immune functions and reduces joint tenderness and morning stiffness in these patients.
It is essential for your brain: The highest content in fatty acids is located in our brain because fats are stored all around your nerves to improve synapse and promote the healthy growth of the brain structures in children. Consuming fish and foods high in omega 3 fatty acids will strengthen the membranes of your neurons and improve your neuronal activity. Some studies also suggest that consuming fish frequently reduces your risk of depression, which is probably linked to a reduction in the inflammatory activity in your brain.
Treats many skin problems: Consuming oily fish is also beneficial for your skin, and it is used in a variety of beauty products. Since it is an anti-inflammatory food, oily fish improves certain skin alterations, especially if they are associated with inflammation and damage to the skin tissue. For example, exposure to UV light causes several types of lesions to the skin but consuming healthy amounts of omega 3 is associated with increased protection against UV radiation. Several skin problems like psoriasis can also be prevented, and their symptoms can be controlled when oily fish is introduced in the diet in the right amounts.
It’s been proposed as an anti-cancer food: Many researchers have explored the link between cancer and fish intake, and several studies suggest that oily fish has an anti-cancer effect against certain types of cancer. Omega 3 in oily fish has the potential to reduce the tumor growth in breast, colon and prostate cancer. Researchers have proposed many reasons why, but it seems that omega 3 influences the biochemical triggers that initiate the tumor growth. Thus, it seems the most critical role omega 3 has on cancer development is by preventing the initial stages of most types of cancer.
It’s essential for the normal growth of your baby: Oily fish or supplements based on this food is usually one of the recommendations for expectant mothers because it promotes the healthy development of the fetus. A deficiency in essential fatty acids during pregnancy can lead to the development of several neurological problems, including cognitive problems, a reduction in visual activity, and others. Even after the baby is born, breastfeeding mothers are advised to consume fish often for the normal growth of the nervous system in babies.
It is a fantastic source of nutrients: So far we have focused our attention on omega 3 fatty acids because that’s one of the best attributes in oily fish. However, fish is also a reliable source of minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iodine, selenium, and vitamins such as vitamin A and vitamin D. They have high-quality proteins with essential amino acids not usually found in plants, which is why fish is the perfect nutritional partner with fruits and vegetables if you want to avoid red meat.