Dr. Brooks Tiller
Is fish good for you? What are the health benefits of fish? When it comes to fish nutrition, what do I need to know?
As a specialist in health and nutrition, I get asked a wide variety of questions about the amounts of nutrition that come from various plants and animals. One of the topics that frequently comes up is fish nutrition and whether or not is very good for the human body. Before I dive directly into the health benefits of eating fish, it is important to understand my assessment on human health today, before I prescribe you with my diagnosis on the health benefits of eating fish.
Heart-related diseases result in more than 25% of the death in the United States. Poor heart health accounts for even more health complications and preventable chronic illness. Some of the diseases that are linked to the heart and circulatory system include heart attack, stroke, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, vascular disease, atrial fibrillation, blood clots, diabetes, cholesterol, and even dementia. A decline in heart health can cause a detrimental impact on our lives.
Taking our health into our own hands is critical and beneficial to improving our cardiovascular health, especially when it gives us another reason to hit the water and catch some fish!
Omega-3’s, most often referred to generally as fish oil, are a special type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. They get their name from their chemical structure. While our body can make saturated fatty acids, we are not able to create omega-3 fatty acids. The three types of Omega-3 are DHA, EPA, and ALA.
Of the three, DHA and EPA are found in fish and are the Omega-3’s that our body most desires. Our body can use DHA and EPA effectively and efficiently. ALA is found in plants. Most common in chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts. Our body can convert only about one percent of the ALA we consume into the fatty acids DHA and EPA, which our body needs.
Omega-3 containing DHA and EPA found in fish helps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol profile, improve brain function, all while decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Many of America’s chronic health problems are correlated to an imbalance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. An imbalance has been found to cause systemic inflammation leading to a huge negative impact on cardiovascular health as well as a decrease in brain function, immune disorders, poor eye health, diabetes, and even increase in weight gain. The typical American consumes an omega-6 to an omega-3 ratio of 20:1 when the recommended ratio is 2:1.
The biggest reason that our ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is so off is that our intake of Omega-6 is so high. We are swamped with Omega-6 from sources such as fast food, fried foods, packaged foods, and poor-quality vegetable oils.
By decreasing our Omega-6 consumption and increasing our Omega-3 intake we can help to improve our fatty acid ratio and our health. To increase Omega-3 we can take a fish oil supplement, or we could go fishing and eat fish a couple times a week!
By casting a line, we can improve our heart health. Wild caught fish is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, nutrients, minerals, as well as essential omega-3 fatty acids often referred to as “fish oil".
Just 3 ounces of fresh fish contains 650 mg of combined EPA and DHA, well over the daily recommended dose of 500 mg of Omega-3’s. That same 3 ounces of fish also contains 20 grams of protein with no sugar or carbohydrates and about 100 calories. We also get a good chunk of Vitamins B-6, B-12, and D along with Magnesium, Potassium, and Selenium.
Is Fish Good For You?
If I haven't explained myself well enough, wild-caught fish is very good for you. The benefits that come from eating fresh fish are numerous. Studies have shown that Omega-3 has helped with such conditions as arthritis, diabetes, ADHD, Alzheimer's, anxiety, depression, cancer, cardiovascular disease, eye disorders, immune system function, as well as skin and hair health. And did I mention you get to go fishing, which always makes the day better!
Now that you know fish is very good for your health, go spend some time on your favorite body of water and use your best fish recipe to provide yourself with some vital nutrition your body deserves. Just be certain you know how to store fish properly. That will make consuming fish delicious and nutritious!
So, consider this your doctor's note to head out and go fishing. It really could save your life!
Dr. Brooks Tiller is an American Ninja Warrior competitor, adventure athlete, speaker and author. He has traveled the globe as a physical therapist, strength coach, and movement specialist; coaching Olympic and professional athletes to increase their performance physically and mentally. Dr. Tiller lives in Tennessee with his wife and two children.