Fish is a wonderful source of Omega-3. Omega-3s are known as essential fatty acids - our bodies cannot produce them on their own, so we need to consume them through our diet or through supplementation. Some of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include reducing inflammation, supporting mother and baby during pregnancy, promoting healthy cardiovascular function and improving cognitive function.
Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies are the go-to fish when it comes to consuming as many omega-3s as possible. Fish also contain a variety of other nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin D and iodine, which play supportive roles in immunity, thyroid health, bone health and promoting healthy skin!
So, how much fish should you eat? The Australian Government Dietary Guidelines recommends 2 serves of fish per week for older children and adults; and for children less than 8 years around 1- 1½ serves of fish per week (note: 1 serve is 100g cooked fish fillet, or 115g raw, or 1 small can).
Research shows that these recommendations can differ for specific health conditions.
Australian food guidelines encourage the consumption of fish during pregnancy. Fish is a source of several nutrients that are important for healthy foetal development, such as iodine, omega 3, vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin B12.
There is a lot of research to show that fish consumption during pregnancy has positive outcomes on foetal health – including improved neurodevelopment, increased birth weight and a reduced risk of spontaneous abortion.
These benefits can carry on during the child’s development too! A study on pregnant women was conducted – half the women in the study consumed 4 or more serves of fish per week, the other women did not consume any fish. The offspring from the mothers who consumed fish had higher developmental scores for language & social activity at 15-18 months of age compared to the offspring whose mothers did not consume any fish. 8 years later, the same children were examined for their IQ scores – the children of the mothers who ate fish during their pregnancy had higher IQ scores compared to the children whose mothers did not eat any fish.
For Cardiovascular Health
Fun fact: the first observation of a link between fish consumption and cardiovascular health was made in the late 1970s in a Greenland Eskimo population! This population consumed a greater than average amount of fish, and had a low rate of cardiovascular death!
Fish and fish oil have many benefits on heart health. Fish contains the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA which have been shown to promote healthy cholesterol levels, healthy triglyceride levels in the blood, and can also support peripheral circulation.
A study on postmenopausal showed that consuming at least 5 serves of baked/broiled salmon, mackerel and/or bluefish per week can support cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of heart failure by 30%!
Eating fish has many different benefits – try to include at least 2 serves of oily fish in your diet this week! Here’s a few delicious (and easy) recipes to inspire you:
- Tinned sardines on a bagel or sourdough toast
- And add avocado, red onion, capers and a big squeeze of lemon juice
- Pan fried salmon fillets
- Marinate the salmon in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a splash of soy sauce, then pan fry - serve with rice and/or baked veggies
- Quick and easy Puttanesca sauce
- Whiz up anchovies, crushed tomatoes and garlic in a blender; add to a sauce pan with olive oil and sliced green olives and cook ‘til thickened – serve with pasta
Please seek advice from your doctor before making significant changes to your diet, and/or if you are on any medication prior to taking any supplements.
- Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Dietary Guidelines Summary, Eat For Health, <https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/sites/default/files/content/The%20Guidelines/n55a_australian_dietary_guidelines_summary_131014_1.pdf>
- Belin, R.J., Greenland, P., Martin, L., Oberman, A., Tinker, L., Robinson, J., Larson, J., Van Horn, L., Lloyd-Jones, D. (2012), Fish Intake and the Risk of Incident Heart Failure: The Women’s Health Initiative, Circulation: Heart Failure 4(4),
- Choi, E., Park, Y. (2016), The Association between the Consumption of Fish/Shellfish and the Risk of Osteoporosis in Men and Postmenopausal Women Aged 50 Years or Older, Nutrients 8(3):11, DOI: 10.3390/nu/8030113
- Einsberg, J.M. (2017), Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Current State of the Evidence, Comparative Effectiveness Review Summary Guides for Clinicians, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK537474/>
- Healthline (2019), How to Optimize Your Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio, <https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/optimize-omega-6-omega-3-ratio#section1>
- Perna, S., Avanzato, I., Nichetti, M., D’Antona, G., Negro, M., Rondanelli, M. (2017), Association between Dietary Patterns of Meat and Fish Consumption with Bone Mineral Density or Fracture Risk: A Systematic Literature, Nutrients 9(9): 1029, DOI: 10.339/nu9091029
- Starling, P., Charlton, K., McMahon, A.T., Lucas, C. (2015), Fish Intake during Pregnancy and Foetal Neurodevelopment – A Systematic Review of the Evidence, Nutrients 7(3): 2001-2014, DOI: 10.3390/nu7032001