Many food items have a specific kind of nutrient that can be used to tackle multiple health problems. The old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctors away,” is not famous for no reason. An apple has many nutrients that help keep your health in check. Just like that, there are many vegetables like kale leaf or fruits like strawberries that are known for keeping the heart healthy and reducing the risk of severe diseases like cancer.
Similarly, eating fish can reduce the risk of heart failure. The American Heart Association has suggested that eating fish twice a week can help reduce heart failure because it is enriched in omega-3 fatty acids.
Recent studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, along with other nutrients like unsaturated fats, can be responsible for some significant health benefits. Thus, adding fish to your diet can be beneficial for your heart in the long run. Now, there is more reason for seasoned food lovers to have fish more often.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Fish is loaded with unsaturated fatty acids, which are more beneficial for the health as compared to saturated fatty acids that are usually found in meat. One such unsaturated fatty acid is Omega-3.
This beneficial nutrient is known to reduce cholesterol level, which is the primary reason for heart failure. Another reason for heart failure is inflammation, which ruptures the blood vessels in the heart and brain, leading to a stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids also reduce inflammation throughout the body.
Furthermore, Omega-3 fatty acids help maintain the blood pressure level, decrease triglycerides, reduce irregular heartbeat, and prevent blood clogging. As a result, it leads to better health of the heart and a lower risk of strokes. Hence, if you add fish to your diet, the risk of sudden cardiac arrests would be lower.
Does a Specific Kind of Fish Help?
Some fish contain more omega-3 fatty acids than others. Oily fish like sardines, mackerel, lake trout, tuna, herring, and salmon have the maximum amount of omega-3 fatty acids you can find in seafood. Therefore, they are the most beneficial of them all.On the other hand, some fish such as catfish and tilapia contain a higher level of unhealthy fatty acids that can damage the heart, so they need to be avoided.
Researchers also have their doubts about the fish produced on farms. Some believe that the chemicals used might affect the quality of the fish and create more health problems as compared to wild fish. However, there are some farmed fish such as trout, salmon, and sea bass that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and are more beneficial for the health as compared to their counterparts.
One thing you need to understand is that even though eating fish is healthy, consuming too much can affect you negatively. Women who are planning to become pregnant or already pregnant, as well as young children, should avoid overeating fish because they are likely to be damaged by the toxins in fish.
However, this is not the case with all fish. Mercury naturally occurs in small amounts everywhere, but this amount drastically increases due to the pollution created by industries. The toxic byproducts of industries are mostly dumped in lakes and rivers, which eventually end up in the sea and turn into food for fish.
This process mainly affects fish that are high on the food chain such as swordfish, king mackerel, and shark. These large fish have a higher level of mercury in their bodies compared to small fish. Since large fish eat smaller fish, the mercury level keeps increasing, and the longer the fish lives, the higher the level gets.
The best way to avoid this is to pay close attention to the kind of fish you eat. For more information, you can check advisories issued by the state. They mention the safe amount of fish you can consume that are caught in the wild.
Should Mercury and Other Contaminants Stop You from Eating Fish?
This problem is undoubtedly one that can’t be ignored, but this doesn’t mean you should stop eating fish altogether. Adults have a more developed immune system and are unlikely to be affected by mercury in fish. However, since young children and pregnant women’s immune systems are weak, children and unborn babies are more likely to get sick.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that instead of giving up fish altogether, the amount of fish eaten should be limited for this group of people. Besides, not all fish have mercury, so choose the ones that have an amount that won’t harm you.
How to Get the Full Benefits?
Although fish is healthy, you only get the full benefits if you consume it in the right way. The American Heart Association recommends eating non-fried fish or shellfish at least once or twice a week to improve cardiovascular health.
The way you consume your fish plays a considerable role in the nutrients you get. For example, if you deep-fry your fish, you will kill half its healthy nutrients. A healthier option is to bake or grill it. It is also advised to have ¾ cup of flaked fish once a week or a serving size of 3.5 ounces of non-fried fish.
Replacing red meat with fish can be one of the best decisions you’ll make for yourself. Animal meat has a higher level of fat, which will increase the risk of heart failure. Fish is so beneficial that people who are vegetarians are recommended to become pescatarians (person who does not eat meat but eats fish) so that they can at least eat fish.
There are a lot of varieties of fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Make a diet plan and keep changing the type of fish every week so that you don’t get bored and get all the benefits.
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