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October 2018

Benefits of Fish

Studies have shown that eating fish on a regular basis may contribute to living longer. Fish protects against heart and vascular disease, may guard against eye disease, arthritis, depression and certain types of cancer.   Most importantly, fish really is “brain food” as the omega 3’s in fish are required for normal brain function. The US Agricultural Research Services reveal that 80-90% of Americans are not eating enough fish.                         

Nutrition Power House

  • Fish is packed with high quality protein which is vital to maintaining muscle mass especially as one ages.
  • The fat content of fish will vary depending on the species. Fish is low in saturated fat and a major source of omega-3’s which are healthy fats. Omega-3s protect against age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss in older adults. They are also associated with better cognitive function, may lower triglycerides and slow the formation of plaque in blood vessels. Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, and herring are the best sources of omega-3s.
  • Fish provides vitamins including B-complex, A and D.  In fact, certain species of fish (salmon, tuna and mackerel) contain more vitamin D than any other food.
  • Fish contains the minerals selenium, zinc, iodine and iron. The tiny bones in small fish, such as sardines, are also a good source of calcium.

Fish Concerns
If you do not eat fish due to concerns with contamination, sustainability or budget, consider the following:

Contamination is mainly associated with the heavy metal mercury.  Larger fish including shark, tilefish, swordfish and king mackerel have the highest levels.  Salmon, shrimp and tilapia are low in mercury. This is more of an issue for children and women of child bearing age, as mercury levels build up over time. For additional information visit the FDA web site; FDA.gov/fishadvice.

Sustainabilityrefers to the way fish have been caught or raised to minimize harm to the environment or other species. For wild caught fish, this means controlling unintentionally caught fish, such as dolphins, while fishing. Farm-raised fish that is sustainable avoids overcrowding which can lead to pollution or disease.  Visit seafoodwatch.org for a list of endangered and sustainably farmed seafood by state.

Budget Although fish can be expensive there are lower priced options available including: seasonal, frozen or even canned.

How Much Fish?
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines - aim for at least eight (8) ounces of seafood a week, which is about two (2) servings. 

For optimal health choose a variety of seafood.  This will provide health benefits and minimize exposure to toxins while maintaining sustainability.

If you choose to supplement omega-3s, first check with your health care provider. Do not take more than a total of 2 grams of omega-3s (EPA and DHA) daily.  If you’re vegetarian, there are supplements made from algae, which is where the fish get their omega-3s.


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