Fish is an essential component of a balanced diet, offering a variety of health benefits. It is rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins like D, and minerals such as selenium. Additionally, fish is a high-quality protein source and contains low levels of saturated fat. Consuming fish or fish oil has been shown to be beneficial for heart health and vascular health. In-depth research suggests that consuming 1-2 servings of fatty fish per week can reduce the risk of dying from heart disease by 36%.
Below, we will explore the numerous advantages of eating fish.
1. Boosts the Immune System
Fish is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, B12, and niacin. It’s also an excellent protein source that supports muscle, organ, and blood vessel health. Protein contributes to hair growth, cell division, and hormone signaling. Fish, particularly oily fish, is high in a mineral called iodine, which is essential for thyroid function, regulating processes like appetite and the immune system.
Eating fish during its seasonal peak can help boost and maintain the immune system due to the presence of fatty acids. Studies have shown that regular fish consumption provides protection against flu and infections. Therefore, it is recommended to consume fish twice a week during its peak season.
2. Enhances Cognitive Function
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for growth and development, and fish is a prime source of these nutrients. Fish can increase grey matter in the brain and slow the aging process. Neurons responsible for processing information and storing memories are found in the brain’s grey matter. Research has shown that individuals who consume fish weekly have more grey matter in regions regulating emotions and memory. Additionally, fish consumption is associated with a reduced risk of depression, as fish oil contains antidepressant omega-3 fatty acids.
Furthermore, pregnant women who regularly consume fish during the first trimester can improve their babies’ learning, perception, and fine motor skills, such as grasping and holding objects. DHA, a component of fish, is highly beneficial for the healthy development of vision and neurological functions in infants and children.
3. Reduces Diabetes Risk
Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and mackerel are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and EPA, which are essential for heart health. These fats are particularly important for individuals at risk of heart disease and stroke, especially those with diabetes. Omega-3s can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes in younger individuals by enhancing insulin function, thus protecting against Type 2 diabetes. As a result, regular fish consumption is recommended for diabetics and those at risk of diabetes.
4. Omega-3 Powerhouse
Fish, especially fatty fish, contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are not produced by the body and must be obtained through diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with preventing and reducing coronary heart disease when consumed regularly. These fatty acids minimize coronary plaque, lower triglyceride levels, and can help reduce blood pressure.
5. Improves Children’s Attention
Balanced fish consumption is highly beneficial for children during their growth phase. Children who consume fish at least once a week are believed to enhance their attention and perception abilities. Fish is abundant in essential nutrients such as protein, phosphorus, vitamin D, and calcium. The amino acids in fish proteins play vital roles in the body. Additionally, the included vitamin D contributes significantly to bone system development and helps prevent osteoporosis later in life.
6. Strengthens Bones
Consuming fish during pregnancy is crucial for both the mother and the baby. Pregnant women have an increased need for calcium, as it plays a role in the baby’s bone formation. Insufficient calcium intake during pregnancy can affect the mother’s bones and increase the risk of bone diseases in later life. Adequate calcium intake during pregnancy also benefits milk production during breastfeeding, ensuring the baby receives all necessary nutrients from the mother’s milk. Thus, regular and sufficient fish consumption is of great importance.
7. Alleviates Joint Pain
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, are among the most potent anti-inflammatory dietary components. Consuming adequate fish, especially for individuals with rheumatoid arthritis, can help reduce joint inflammation and alleviate existing pain. Fish consumption also contributes to lowering high cholesterol, improving metabolism, promoting skin health, and benefiting joint health, among other health conditions.
8. Repairs Cells
One of the essential sources of nutrients for the body is protein. Fish, including various other foods, produces high-quality protein fats. Protein plays a vital role in cell repair and the formation of new tissues. Therefore, it is recommended to consume fish regularly.
9. Reduces the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
Fish consumption has long been associated with heart health, but recent research indicates its benefits for brain health as well. Studies have found that individuals who consume fish at least once a week have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, the risk of mild cognitive impairment, a form of memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s, is also reduced. Fish consumers have been found to have more gray matter in their brains, which is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Larger brain volume is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, while brain shrinkage is linked to memory and cognitive problems.
Best Types of Fish for Health
Research suggests that salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, and sardines are among the healthiest fish choices. These varieties are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids compared to other fish. These nutrients help maintain and improve hair and skin health and increase the body’s resistance to aging.
How to Prepare Fish?
There are various healthy methods for preparing fish:
- Baking: Coat the fish in olive oil, salt, pepper, and optional herbs like thyme, parsley, or bay leaves. Fish can be baked in an oven preheated to 150°C for approximately 12 minutes, then the temperature increased to 200°C for an additional 20 minutes.
- Steaming: Steam fish by using a steaming set. Place the fish in the upper part of the steamer while water boils in the lower part. The cooking time varies depending on the thickness of the fish, with about 7-8 minutes needed for a 2.5 cm thick fish.
- Poaching: Poaching involves simmering the fish in a flavored liquid. Place the fish in a pot with tomatoes, garlic, and other desired ingredients. Poach until the fish is cooked and tender.
- Grilling: Season the fish with salt, pepper, and a bit of olive oil. Ensure that the grill is greased before cooking. Grilled fish can be sliced or skewered to reduce cooking time.
- Stir-Frying: Create a fish sauce by adding diced vegetables, garlic, and other flavors to the fish. Stir-fry until the fish is cooked and the ingredients are well combined.
How to Clean Fish?
Cleaning small fish involves removing the head by grasping it with your left hand and using the index finger of your right hand to press it down and remove it. Then, use your right index finger to make a cut along the belly, removing the innards. Rinse the fish thoroughly. For larger fish, start by making a deep cut along the belly from the mouth to the tail, then remove the gills and innards. Rinse with cold water, and the fish can be sliced or filleted as desired.
How to Store Fish?
There are several methods for storing fish:
- Freezing: To store fish for an extended period, use a freezer. Lay the fish flat in the freezer to prevent sticking. Small fish like sardines and herring can be stored for 3 months, while larger fish can be stored for 6-8 months.
- Salting: One of the most effective methods for preserving fish freshness is salting. Salt the fish before placing it in the freezer, preserving its freshness for an extended period.
- Room Temperature: Fish can be kept at room temperature for up to 24 hours during winter months. However, in hot weather or warm environments, this time may be shorter.
- Smoking: Smoking is a preservation technique where fish is exposed to smoke, which acts as an antibacterial agent and extends shelf life.
Different types of wood, such as oak, maple, and beech, can be used for smoking, imparting various flavors to the food.
In conclusion, fish is a nutritious and versatile food that provides a wide range of health benefits. By choosing the right type of fish and preparing it in a healthy manner, you can enjoy its delicious taste while enhancing your overall well-being.