5 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Fish
Traditionally I have not been a big fish eater. This is partly because my mom didn’t serve it much when I was growing up. Thus, I never really learned how to cook it. Not only that but I didn’t even taste much fish until I became more nutrition conscious in college. Since then, I’ve discovered that fish is super easy to prepare. Not only can fish be prepared quickly, which removes one hurdle to the “fast” food culture. But you don’t even have to thaw it out before cooking it (though it is perfectly okay to do so).
As the result of how beneficial fish can be to your overall health, I decided to provide a brief summary of 5 reasons why you should eat more fish. (Post contains affiliate links).
Eating more fish will increase your immune system.
A strong immune system is important for reducing risk of contagious diseases caused by viruses and bacteria. For example, flu, the common cold, strep throat and tonsillitis. A strong immune system also reduces the effects of damage caused by environmental toxins. This in turn reduces risk of non-contagious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and degenerative diseases such as MS.
Fatty Fish is High in Omega-3 fats
Omega-3 fats are healthy in many ways. For example, omega-3s reduce inflammation which combats pro-inflammatory compounds, such as those found in the environment. By consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fats in your diet through a higher consumption of fish, you will reduce your risk of:
- Hypertension and Stroke
- Heart Disease
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Multiple Sclerosis
- And More
Eating More Fish Will Help You Lose Weight
When you eat more fish, you are more likely to eat less red meat. And ounce for ounce, fish is lower in calories than red meat.
For example, 3.5 ounces of salmon (one of the highest calorie fishes) has about 180 calories (references vary and it depends on which type of salmon as there are at least 5 varieties). This is about 50 calories per ounce. Compare this to 4 ounces of 15% lean ground beef, which contains 243 calories, which is 60 calories per ounce.
So, comparing equal amount of salmon to ground beef, you have 4 ounces of salmon 200 calories versus 4 ounces ground beef 243. This may not sound like much, but it adds up over time!
And this is just salmon. Cod, which is very low in fat, contains only 82 calories for a 3.5 ounce serving. Yellowfin Tuna 109, and Halibut 116 calories. So, fish is an excellent way to maintain a high quality protein intake and reduce calories as well.
Fish is an excellent source of high quality protein
Protein is essential for a strong immune system. It is also important for healthy muscle, proper functioning of enzymes and hormones, and for maintaining healthy skin. Protein is necessary for DNA/RNA synthesis as well as healthy bones. I could go on. However, I have written previously about the importance of protein. Click here to read more about why protein is so important for good health.
Fish is Lower in Saturated Fat Than Red Meat.
Regardless of how much fat is in a particular fish, all fish is low in saturated fat. In regard to the amount of saturated fat in fish versus red meat, let’s compare salmon.
3 ounces Atlantic Salmon provides 11 grams of total fat, only 2 grams of which is saturated fat. In contrast, 3 ounces 15% lean ground beef provides 12.5 grams of total fat, 5 grams of which are saturated.
And then there are lower fat fishes. For example, cod only has .5 grams of total fat and NO saturated fat. (Note that cod is not as high in vitamin D but still provides 10% of the US RDA in one 3 ounce serving.) The reason why vitamin D is higher in salmon is because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is found in higher amounts in fatty tissue.
Fish is an excellent source of vitamin D and Selenium.
Believe it or not, 1-3 ounce serving of salmon will provide 100% of the US RDA of vitamin D for most people. Most people today are not getting enough vitamin D in their diet. Thus, eating more fish will help you to meet your needs for this important vitamin.
Selenium is an important mineral that acts as an antioxidant in your body. Antioxidants fight against free radicals, which are responsible for cancer and contribute to heart disease. Selenium is also important for thyroid health. One 3 ounce serving of salmon will provide nearly 50% of the US RDA for Selenium. Thus eating more fish will help you meet your nutritional needs for selenium.
Do you have concerns about eating fish?
It is true that you must be conscious of which fish you are eating, what the source of fish is as well as the amount of fish that is generally safe to eat. For example, contaminants including mercury, PCBs, PBDEs, dioxins, and chlorinated pesticides can all end up in the fish we eat.
Below are tables providing general guidelines to help you determine which fish are the safest to eat.
Scroll to the very bottom for the reference list I used as well as a link for some tasty fish recipes.