With 2022 officially here and the holiday season behind us, New Year’s resolutions are in full swing meaning a lot of people are kicking off new diets or making course corrections to their current food intake after indulging for the holidays. An easy way to increase your nutritional consumption is by incorporating fish into your diet. Fish are loaded with important nutrients such as protein, iodine, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and many more important vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are incredibly important to your body and brain and reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, stroke, and heart attack. Fish also have a lower calorie count than many other common proteins such as poultry or beef, so replacing these with fish can help achieve weight loss goals.
Fish are one of the most heart healthy foods you can eat, and studies show that men who eat at least one serving of fish a week have a 15% lower risk of heart disease, and this is greatly attributed to the concentration of omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish. So, what exactly are Omega-3’s and why are they important? Omega-3’s are a group of unsaturated fatty acids which are essential to our growth and development and are found in higher concentrations in fattier fish. Our bodies do not produce Omega-3’s, but rather need to consume them or take them as a supplement. Every cell in our bodies need Omega-3’s, but in particular our eyes, brain, and heart. The bulk of research on omega-3’s has been focused on heart health benefits, which are incredibly important because heart disease and strokes are the two leading causes of death in the world. Omega-3’s lower triglyceride levels, which result in less plaque buildup in your arteries. Several controlled trials have also revealed that omega-3 fatty acids may fight depression and significantly increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that can be found in fish which is essential to our wellbeing, and a lot of people are lacking in it. It is responsible for controlling and regulating our absorption of calcium and phosphorus as well as facilitate normal immune system functionality. Nearly 41% of the US population is either deficient or low in Vitamin D, and fish as well as fish products are among the best dietary sources of it. Just a single 4oz serving of salmon can pack 100% of the recommended intake of vitamin D.
Sleep disorders are incredibly common worldwide, and though some attribute many to blue light exposure, some researchers attribute it to a lack of vitamin D. The result of a six-month study of nearly 100 middle aged men showed that a single meal of salmon 3 times a week not only led to improvements in sleep, but also led to improvements in daily functionality and was speculated to be a result of the increased vitamin D intake. Vitamin D can improve your overall mood as well, as a study on fibromyalgia showed that vitamin D deficiencies were more common in those experiencing anxiety and depression.
If weight loss is your goal, fish can help you achieve it when you choose the right kind. The majority of fish are high in protein but contain fewer calories than other common proteins. Foods that are rich in protein can help increase the duration to which you feel full and can help prevent overeating at meals or in between them. Just eating fish doesn’t automatically equate to losing weight, however, incorporating nutrient rich fish into your balanced diet, as well as being consistent about exercising can help you achieve your goals.
In addition to all of these benefits, increased fish consumption can also lower your risk of rheumatoid arthritis, lower your risk of type 1 diabetes, help prevent asthma in children, may protect against age-related macular degeneration (vision loss with age), and may improve overall sleep quality. With so many strict diets out there, that are nearly impossible to stick too, kick off a healthy 2022 by just incorporating more fish into your diet. You may see some overall improvements in your day-to-day life from improved attitude/demeanor, more sustained energy, more restful sleep, and even weight loss, so whether its swordfish, tuna, salmon, or snapper; kick of the new year with some fish!