Fish is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It is packed with important nutrients, such as protein and vitamin D. Oily fish are also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which provide numerous benefits for the body and brain.
Since the human body cannot manufacture significant amounts of the most common essential nutrients, fish is an important part of the diet. Eating fish also allows us to avoid the “bad” fats commonly found in red meat, called omega-6 fatty acids.
Scientists have long studied ways in which regular consumption of fish, especially fatty fish, can improve human health. Here’s a look at five studies posted on StudyFinds that could send you running to the grocery store to stock up on delicious fillets.
Eating fish regularly could add five years to your life
Want to live longer? Eat more oily fish! Research shows that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood, which fish contain in abundance, contribute to a lifespan about five years longer than the norm. Just one percent increase in omega-3 levels reduces a person’s risk of death as much as quitting smoking, according to an international team of researchers.
The study analyzed data on fatty acid levels in the blood of more than 2,200 people over the age of 65. Scientists monitored each person’s health for about 11 years. The results show that four types of fatty acids contribute positively to human life expectancy, including two saturated fatty acids. Generally, health experts advise people to stay away from saturated fats because of their link to heart disease. However, recent studies have shown that some of these fats can actually help keep people healthy.
“What we found is not negligible. This reinforces the idea that small changes in diet in the right direction can have a much more powerful effect than we realize, and it’s never too late or too early to make these changes.” author of the study, Dr. Aleix Sala-Vila.
As for consuming more omega-3s, the American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like salmon, anchovies or sardines twice a week.
READ MORE: Eat more fish! Boosting Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels Could Add 5 Years to Your Life
Reduces the risk of diabetes
According to scientists, eating just two cans of sardines a week can help prevent type 2 diabetes. A recent study concludes that eating fatty fish is actually more effective than simply taking in the same nutrients they provide in form of pills.
Of course, the health benefits of eating oily fish are well known. This is because they contain high amounts of nutrients such as taurine, omega 3, calcium, and vitamin D. Their high content of unsaturated fats also helps balance cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.
The study followed 152 patients who had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, meaning their blood sugar levels were between 100 and 124 milligrams per decilitre. All participants were then put on a diet aimed at reducing their risk of developing the disease. But some also received two cans of sardines in olive oil, representing 200 grams (or seven ounces), each week.
The number of people at high risk of diabetes who did not receive sardines every week fell from 27% to 22% over the course of a year. But high-risk patients who followed the fish diet dropped from 37% to an incredible 8% over the same period, according to the study. Plus, eating oily fish also had other health benefits, including increasing insulin resistance and raising good cholesterol and hormones, which help break down glucose and lower blood pressure.
READ MORE: Eating two cans of sardines a week significantly reduces the risk of diabetes
Oily fish may help prevent heart disease
Tuna Tuesday. Salmon on Saturday. If fish is a favorite menu item, you have new reasons to enjoy it. A recent study involving participants from 60 countries reveals that eating oily fish twice a week may protect against heart disease in people at high risk.
It’s the omega-3 fatty acids in fish that make the difference. The study found that high-risk people who ate two servings a week of omega-3-rich fish reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by about one-sixth (about 16%) compared to those who did not eat oily fish. While people at low risk for cardiovascular disease may gain some protection by eating oily fish, the positive impact of omega-3 consumption is greatest for those at high risk.
Scientists say it’s important to know the difference between oily fish and whitefish in order to maximize your omega-3 intake. Oily fish have oil that is well distributed throughout body tissues and the abdominal cavity, making them the best source of omega-3s. Catch trout, salmon, sardines, anchovies, pilchards, kippers, eels, whitebait, mackerel, herring or tuna for the highest levels of omega-3s. While fatty fish and whitefish are great sources of lean, flavorful protein, whitefish offer very little omega-3. Keep this in mind if you eat these whitefish: cod, snapper, grouper, haddock, plaice, pollock, bass or halibut.
READ MORE: Fishing for better health? Two servings of oily fish per week reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
Infants are less likely to contract diseases
Infants who eat fish at least once a week are less likely to develop asthma, eczema and hay fever by age six, scientists say. In fact, babies who ate fish regularly between the first two years of life experienced a 28% to 40% reduction in many illnesses.
The study looked at data collected for a pediatric allergy survey in Trondheim, Norway. Data from more than 4,000 families were included in this analysis, which investigated the relationship between maternal and child fish consumption and later development of asthma, eczema or colds. hay in the child.
The study authors say they did what they could to account for other possible factors that could have influenced their conclusions, such as socioeconomic status. That being said, it is possible that children of more financially stable parents have more health advantages than others. Similarly, lower rates of disease within this socioeconomic class may be due to multiple contributing factors, not just fish consumption.
In line with previous meta-analyses of several studies, the study concludes that fish consumption at one year of age appears to reduce the risk of eczema, asthma and wheezing at age six. years. This is greater than the mother’s intake of fish and cod liver oil during pregnancy and lactation or the infant’s intake at two years of age, which do not appear to have the same protective effect. .
READ MORE: Cod for kids: Eating fish just once a week may reduce risk of disease in infants
Reduces the risk of asthma in children
In children, asthma is one of the main causes of hospitalizations and visits to the emergency room. It is estimated that one in 12 children – or about 6 million children across the United States – suffers from respiratory problems, according to the CDC. There is growing evidence that healthy eating could be a potential therapy for childhood asthma. Research shows that children who eat more fish may be less prone to illness.
Studies have shown that most cases of asthma in adults begin in childhood. In this study, the researchers conclude that eating lots of salmon, mackerel and sardines can reduce the risk of children developing the disease. Scientists say those who consume the most can reduce the risk of developing this life-threatening disease half.
The study included data from more than 4,500 British children. Those in the top quarter for fish consumption had a 51% lower risk than those in the bottom peers.
Although the study cannot say with certainty that eating more fish will prevent asthma in children, based on the results, it would still be wise for children to consume more fish, as few currently reach the recommended intake. . In addition, the study results were confirmed in an independent cohort of people born in Sweden. Other studies have shown that regular consumption of oily fish reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes, raising blood lipids by more than a quarter.
READ MORE: Kids can halve asthma risk by eating more oily fish
While all of this research highlighting the health benefits of eating fish is certainly exciting, it’s always important to speak with your doctor or nutritionist first before making any significant changes to your diet and lifestyle. of life.