As part of a whole-foods diet, eating fish can help contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Fish contains vitamins A, D, and B12 and minerals such as potassium, selenium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Moreover, selenium is also an antioxidant that supports blood vessel health, may prevent coronary artery disease, supports thyroid health, and may lower your risk of getting some cancers. Not only is fish a high-quality source of vitamins and minerals, it is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory, help protect the cardiovascular system against oxidative damage, and are essential to health as the human body can’t make these fats itself. A small study even compared fish oil supplements to fresh fish and found the group eating fresh fish had more benefit.
There are a few ways to get fish into your diet. If you have the time to cook, adding in fresh oily fish at least twice a week can be helpful. The omega-3 content of fish can also help improve cholesterol and lower the risk of heart attacks. Many types of fish can contain omega-3s and other nutrients, but oily fish contain the most. Oily fish includes herring (bloater, kipper, and hilsa are types of herring), pilchards, salmon, sardines, sprats, trout, and mackerel. It’s important to buy your fish from trusted sources and to refrigerate, freeze, or cook the fish as soon as possible to preserve nutrients. Here’s more information on how to choose the safest, most nutritious fish option for your diet: https://doh.wa.gov/community-and-environment/food/fish/healthy-fish-guide
Since eating fresh fish isn’t for everyone, fish oil supplements, which are generally more concentrated sources of omega-3s, are a good option. These can come in liquid or capsule form. Make sure your supplement is molecularly distilled as this will help ensure you are avoiding excess heavy metal exposure such as mercury. Side effects can include “fish burps” but higher quality supplement companies, taking fish oil capsules, and consulting your doctor for digestive support can all help eliminate this problem. As fish oil is a fat, it is best consumed with food. The Federal Food and Drug Administration has approved up to 3 grams of fish oil daily as safe for consumption, but you should see your holistic doctor to find out what’s best for you.
Bowen, Kate J et al. 2016. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Are There Benefits?.” Current Treatment Options in Cardiovascular Medicine, 18(11): 69. doi:10.1007/s11936-016-0487-1
Li Z, Zhong W, Liu S, Kraus V B, Zhang Y, Gao X et al. 2020. “Associations of Habitual Fish Oil Supplementation with Cardiovascular Outcomes and All Cause Mortality: Evidence From a Large Population Based Cohort Study.” BMJ 368: m456. doi:10.1136/bmj.m456
“Selenium.” N.D. The Nutrition Source. Harvard, T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved Jan. 16, 2023. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/selenium/
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Zibaeenezhad, M.J., Ghavipisheh, M., Attar, A. et al. 2017. “Comparison of the Effect of Omega-3 Supplements and Fresh Fish on Lipid Profile: A Randomized, Open-labeled Trial. Nutr & Diabetes, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41387-017-0007-8
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