Is fatty fish healthy?
Fatty fish is considered very healthy. The presence of unsaturated fatty acids helps keep the heart healthy and lower bad cholesterol. But when do we speak of oily fish? How many servings of fish per week are ideal? And which fish species are still healthy to eat since many seas are polluted?
What is fatty fish?
The nutrition center speaks of fatty fish when it contains more than 5% fat. You can of course easily check this on the label when you make your purchases. The most famous examples are salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and eel.
What Are the Health Benefits of Fatty Fish?
Eating oily fish is especially recommended because of the high content of healthy fats. The unsaturated Omega 3 comes in many forms. In fish, you will find the two forms most useful for the body: DHA and EPA.
You can also get Omega 3 through vegetable food, but this version (ALA) has to be converted by the body itself into usable form. This process is not that efficient. Moreover, the vegetable forms are mainly found in linseed, chia seeds, and walnuts, foods we do not consume very often. It is therefore not easy to get a sufficient amount from these sources.
The importance of Omega 3
The Omega 3 fatty acids in fatty fish reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Because they ensure healthy blood vessels, they also have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Fatty fish, for example, is an important pillar of the Mediterranean diet. This has often proven effective in reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory diseases, obesity, and various cancers.
What is often overlooked is that Omega 3 is also extremely important for the proper functioning of the brain. There are strong indications that Omega 3 fatty acids can help with mental problems such as behavioral disorders, dementia, and depression.
How Much Omega 3 Do I Need?
The Health Council recommends 200 milligrams of EPA and DHA per day for adults. A 100 g serving of salmon provides you between 0.8 g and 2.16 g of EPA and DHA. So once a week fatty fish in your eating schedule is sufficient.
Other good substances in fatty fish
Most fatty fish contain many other good substances in addition to Omega 3. Think of vitamin B12, iodine, phosphorus, and vitamin B6. Like the other types of fish, fatty fish also contain a lot of protein, which is important for the recovery and building of muscles and countless other functions in the body.
The downside of fatty fish
Many seas and oceans have become polluted due to human influence. Unfortunately, the amount of harmful substances that enter our food chain via fish is no longer negligible. Heavy metals and dioxins in the water are stored in the fat cells of the fish. The crazy thing is, the more healthy fats a fish contains, the more harmful substances it can have stored.
The metals and microplastic particles in fatty fish are also further stored in the fat cells in the human body. This disrupts all kinds of important processes, including hormone balance. An accumulation of arsenic and cadmium increases the risk of lung and skin cancer over time. Heavy metals affect many organs and systems in the body in the long term, such as the nervous system, the immune system, the kidneys, the lungs, and the digestive system.
Is fatty fish healthy?
Yes, fatty fish definitely belongs to a healthy diet because it is a good source of protein, Omega 3 fatty acids, and a host of other vitamins and minerals. But to protect yourself from the potential disadvantages of contamination, it is best to keep the following in mind:
- Choose smaller species that only eat plankton. Larger predatory fish such as tuna accumulate more harmful substances during their life cycle than smaller conspecifics.
- The habitat of the fish is also important. European waters are unfortunately often dirtier in the Pacific.
- Wild species that can swim around freely and eat natural food contain a higher content of Omega 3 than cultivated species. Farmed fish often receive poor nutrition that diminishes the nutritional value for humans.
- Organic fish is not the best choice. Organic fish is always farmed fish and never wild fish. If you choose farmed fish, organic is better than non-organic. But caught in the wild is still the best.
- Don’t eat fatty fish every day. It is better to eat quality fish once a week than farmed fish from polluted waters three times a week. This way you get the most Omega 3 and the smallest amounts of harmful substances.
- Also, pay attention to the healthy preparation of your fish. Part of the Omega 3 is lost by frying fish hard. Therefore, vary with steaming or prepare your fish in the oven.
It seems like you have to take a hundred things into account if you want to eat a piece of fish. What really counts is that eating a piece of fatty fish regularly is good for you. And if you vary enough in the types of fish you buy and the way you prepare them, then you don’t have to worry.