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It will keep us healthy - that's a fishy story!                                                September 2009 

 

It will help keep us healthy – 
that’s a fishy story!

seafoodFor some years we have been bombarded with the benefits of eating seafood and how the oils in fish can help prevent heart attacks and other health problems. When new ideas like this hit the headlines, usually after a few years opposing views and reports are published and the concept changes from being a headline grabbing breakthrough to just another sensible idea in keeping fit and healthy.

This isn’t the case with seafood. New reports are still coming out highlighting the serious benefits of seafood, especially the oily fish such as mackerel, sardines, herrings, fresh tuna, salmon and trout.

It seems seafood oils really are unique, mainly because they contain the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, the eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A wide number of serious medical reports say that these oils can help prevent diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arteriosclerosis, asthma and even bronchitis. Omega-3 oils decrease the risk of high blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis and can even help prevent osteoporosis because the oils improve calcium absorption in the bones, therefore helping to prevent the bones from becoming brittle. More recent finds indicate that Omega-3 also helps to improve immune functions in the body.

Recent research by US academics found compelling evidence that eating oily fish could reduce heart attack deaths without the need for extra medication. It is estimated that each year 200,000 people in the UK die from heart disease and a further 275,000 Britons suffer heart attacks.

The British Heart Foundation say the unique polyunsaturated fats found in fish oils help to prevent blood clots from forming, lower levels of a type of fat found in the blood called triglycerides and regulate heart rhythm.

The complex omega-3 fats also offer other benefits as they contain protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Fish oil also contains omega-6 fatty acid which is important for growth and plays an important role in general health.

Unfortunately our body only produces small amounts of these fatty acids and that is why we rely on nourishment from food to supplement our requirement for these nutrients. Eating seafood clearly seems to be the best way to do this.


Twice a week

Recommendations are that everyone should eat seafood at least once or twice a week; this level can provide good health benefits.

Seafish is our official authority on seafood. It was founded in 1981 by an act of parliament and supports the seafood industry for a sustainable, profitable future (www.seafish.org). Their services include research and they have recently brought out a booklet, The Healthy Guide to Buying, Preparing, Cooking and Sourcing Seafood. They have also brought out a series of new guides offering tips and advice, including recipes, on how to cook seafood and these are being sent to all independent fishmongers across the UK. Finally they have also launched a Facebook “seafood2aweek” page to encourage consumers to eat two portions of seafood a week as recommended by the Food Standards Agency.

The biggest problem with this emphasis on eating oily fish is that fish can deteriorate quickly. Ideally you should cook it on the day you buy it, but even in the fridge you really shouldn’t keep it for longer than two days. Frozen fish of course is a real help, but the way you thaw fish is important. If you just leave it out on a plate to thaw, its nutritional value can diminish; many food companies recommend cooking frozen fish directly to retain as much of the nutritional value as possible. Alternatively you can thaw it under cold water which is better than just leaving it at room temperature. There is of course also a huge range of tinned fish available in most shops.

The best thing today is that there is a wonderful selection of different fish readily available across the country plus there are also heaps of great new recipes to make fish taste really great. You also don’t have to choose the most expensive fish to gain the benefits from those essential oils!

Really there is no reason why most of us can’t include at least two healthy fish meals in our diet every week.

 


Nutricentre Discount for laterlife visitors If in any doubt about any of the information covered in health and nutrition related articles and it's relevance for you, consult your GP.

 

 



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