Statistics show that heart disease is now the leading cause of death in both men and women. Therefore, we need to take care of our hearts and ensure that it is always in good shape. To keep our hearts fit and healthy, it is important to do regular exercises and follow a weight control program. Additionally, choose a specific healthy heart diet to reduce the risk of heart and other chronic diseases.
Experts advise that having a diet that is healthy for the heart reduces blood clots and inflammation; thus, lessens the possibility of heart disease or stroke. Accordingly, it is vital to understand the effects of your food choices to prevent or manage heart disease and high blood pressure.
Health Benefits of Fish
Eating fish does not only provide essential nutrients but also decreases the threat of sudden death due to heart diseases. Researchers have revealed in their studies that fish contain unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid, which lessens the risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids are found to help lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, hence, reducing the risk of sudden death caused by heart attack, stroke, and abnormal heartbeats, also known as arrhythmias. Omega-3 fatty acids aid in reducing inflammation of the body and delay the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque. Furthermore, fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids contribute to keep the retina of the eye and brain tissues healthy.
Regular consumption of fish improves blood vessel elasticity, lowers blood fats, and boosts good cholesterol in our body. Children who eat fish are less likely to develop asthma while elderly people who eat fish at least once a week have smaller risk of developing dementia. Studies also show that pregnant women who eat fish have lesser possibility of premature delivery or low birth weight. Moreover, breastfed babies whose mother eats fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids have better brain and eye development.
Aside from being a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, fish is likewise rich in riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorous. Fish is also an excellent source of minerals, such as iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
Doctors Recommend to Eat Fish
Doctors recommend eating two 4-ounce servings of fish in a week while the American Heart Association advises people with heart disease to have at least one serving of fish in a day.
Based on different studies conducted, researchers say that oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They also suggest trout, herring, and are mackerel. Similarly, char, sablefish, and anchovies are found to be rich in omega-3 fatty acids. On the other hand, if these fish do not suit your taste buds, you can try other white fish, such as halibut and cod.
Four ounces of salmon gives 83% of the omega-3 fatty acid you need for a day. In the meantime, a 4-ounce serving of halibut provides 25% of the omega-3 you need in a day while cod offers 15%.
The type of fish you eat is as important as how you prepare them. The manner of preparation creates a big difference in the level of blood cholesterol. Nutritionists advise eating fish when broiled, grilled, baked or steamed. You can poach your fish as well by putting it on a plate over a saucepan with moderately boiling water before covering. Fish loses their health benefits when deep-fried so use only a small amount of oil or butter and fry the fish in medium heat.
Tuna has always been the healthy choice when eating fish. It is highly recommended to eat tuna with low-fat mayonnaise. Likewise, you can pair your tuna with whole grain bread and put some pickle or relish on it.
A Word of Warning for Fish Eaters
Though doctors recommend eating one to two fish meals a week, they warn people from too much fish consumption because of the risks involved.
Some fish, such as tuna, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and golden bass, have high mercury content, which can be a serious threat to women who may be pregnant, breastfeeding women, and children. When mercury enters the body, it interferes with the brain development of your children, which can cause mental retardation, cerebral palsy, deafness, and even blindness. Excessive mercury can also affect the nervous system causing numbness of the fingers, lips and toes, muscle and joint pain, and delayed psychomotor development. Similarly, mercury can cause learning disabilities as well as short attention span, even in small quantity.
Other fish may also contain other toxins like dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). However, the levels of these toxins in fish are very low; thus, the health risks are low compared to the health benefits that you will get from eating fish.