My Top 5 Reasons We All Should Eat More Fish
March is National Nutrition Month and as Birth by Design’s resident dietitian I would love to encourage you to use this month to expand and exercise your food knowledge!
Birth by Design has a lot going on this March. On March 11th we will celebrate National RDN (registered dietitian nutritionist) day, and the 3rd week of the month is World Doula Week which BbD will be celebrating with $5 workshops from many different team members in both Little Rock and Conway! Follow Birth by Design Conway Birth Services on Facebook for more information.
In honor of National Nutrition Month I want to talk about one of my favorite foods to “bite into” FISH! The role of dietary fish intake has stirred a lot of interest in the health community in recent years—for good reason. The benefits of a fishy diet are vast. In my own practice I routinely recommend including or even increasing whole-food fish intake. Many of us are familiar with fish as a source of protein but that is really just the tip of the iceberg!
Here are my Top 5 Reasons to Eat More Fish!
Fishy Fat – Many types of fish are a great source for Omega-3 Fatty Acids (aka n-3 fatty acids) and their derivatives EPA and DHA. Omega-3s are polyunsaturated fats, which mean they are liquids at room temperature and are the type of fats dietitians recommend as a part of a health and balanced diet. Omega-3s are great functional fats that aid our bodies in many of their daily tasks including blood clotting and building cell membranes in our brains (vital for baby’s brain growth starting at conception). Certain types of fats such as the popular but elusive Omega-3s are not produced in our own bodies and must be obtained from dietary sources; such as whole-foods and supplements. Fish is a great choice for your diet because it has very low levels of saturated fat and is an Omega-3 powerhouse. Check out this article for more information on Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Vitamins and Minerals – While the vitamin and mineral composition varies between types of fish most fish are a dependable source of calcium, vitamin B2, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium. Fatty fish can also be a source of dietary vitamin D, sometimes known as the sunshine vitamin. Why is this important? Most Americans are deficient in vitamin D, especially during the colder months when exposure to sun is reduced. Vitamin D deficiency is a big problem that results in fatigue, bone pain and weakness, and frequent infections. Check out this website for more about Vitamin D.
HBV Protein – Most of us know fish is a protein source, but did you know that fish is considered a High Biological Value (HBV) protein? In other words fish contains the essential amino acids (protein building blocks) in an amount similar to that required by our body. HBV proteins like fish provide those protein building blocks that our bodies are unable to create on their own. Fish can also be referred to a complete protein source. Fish is a great protein source when is chosen to replace an unhealthier protein sources like red meat, meat with lots of saturated fat, or foods low biological value protein.
Sustainability – Many types of meats and proteins have a large and detrimental effect on our ecological system. While the type of fish and its particular processing history cause the sustainability factor to vary, most types of fish are more sustainable for our environment than more common meats. Fish has half the greenhouse gas emissions of beef, and most fish has a lower carbon footprint than chicken, turkey, pork, beef, lamb, or cheese! For more information on sustainability and the impact of the foods you eat on our environment check out this website.
Your health – This is kind of reiterating my previous four points, but it is worthy of its own discussion! Eating the recommended amount of fish has been a national problem for the entire history of our country (you can blame it on geography if you want but with our food system I can quick poke some holes in that story!) Most importantly for my practice fish is proven vital for healthy brain cell development in infants (and that’s just fish fat!). Fish provides a lot of nutritional benefits that can help moms grow a healthy baby; many of the vitamins and minerals that fish provides are needed in increased quantities during pregnancy. Research has also revealed that fish is very beneficial for cardiovascular health; it can improve lipid profiles (HDL/LDL/Total Cholesterol) as well as help maintain healthy blood pressure and blood glucose levels (1). Resent research shows that regular fish consumption can also play a protective role in metabolic syndrome prevention (2)! Fish may also help reduce depression when consumed 2-3 times a week.
So those are my Top 5 Reasons to Eat More Fish!
What is your favorite reason to eat fish?
Did you learn anything new about fish from this article? If so leave me a comment below!
For more information about eating a healthy and balanced diet at any life stage find a local registered dietitian and schedule a session to get started on your path to a happier and healthier you!!
If you have questions about any of the topics in the article, whole-foods vs supplements, prenatal or postpartum nutrition, sustainability, or Birth by Design services you can email me (Jody the RDN!) at BbDdietitian@gmail.com or visit www.birthbydesigndoulas.com or find us on Facebook!
Jody Beth Wells, MS, LD, RDN
Prenatal and Postpartum Nutrition Counselor and Educator at Birth by Design
Birth Services for all of Central Arkansas
1) Tørris C1, Molin M2, Cvancarova Småstuen M1. Fish consumption and its possible preventive role on the development and prevalence of metabolic syndrome - a systematic review. Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2014 Oct 17;6(1):112. doi: 10.1186/1758-5996-6-112. eCollection 2014.
2) Panagiotakos DB1, Zeimbekis A, et.al. Long-term fish intake is associated with better lipid profile, arterial blood pressure, and blood glucose levels in elderly people from Mediterranean islands (MEDIS epidemiological study).Med Sci Monit. 2007 Jul;13(7):CR307-12.