Scientific interest in oily fish first arose when researchers discovered that Eskimos, who have a diet that is primarily made up of oily fish, experience a much lower than average rate of heart attacks, strokes and other diseases. Since then, the many health benefits that oily fish can bring to the body have been heavily documented, making this a food that you should be making the effort to eat much more.
What Are Oily Fish?
Oily fish are specific species of fish that contain certain oils that run throughout their body, while white fish only contains oil in its liver. Some of the most readily available of oily fish would be mackerel, sardines, herring, trout, salmon, kipper and whitebait, and these count as an oily fish whether they are fresh, frozen, smoked or canned. While fresh tuna is also considered to be an oily fish, canned tuna is not, as the canning process takes its levels down to that of a white fish, making it not as beneficial.
Oily fish is the best natural source of omega-3 fatty acids that you will find, and these are essential for a wide variety of functions within the body, as well as the brain, and have been directly linked to a reduction in many diseases. In addition to the omega-3 fatty acids, oily fish also contains a variety of other nutrients that the average person usually does not consume enough of, such as vitamin D, some of the B vitamins, and selenium.
Oily fish bring about some incredible health benefits, such as the prevention of heart disease and up to a 50% reduced risk of rheumatoid arthritis, both of which have been scientifically proven. The omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish also help to protect the vision, as well as improve the memory and inhibit the growth of oral and skin cancers. Pregnant women that consume oily fish in the last few months of their pregnancy will also be able to boost their child’s sensory, motor and cognitive development, giving him or her a fantastic start to life.
How Much to Eat
The recommended amount of oily fish to eat each week is between one and two portions, with each portion weighing around 140 grams. The main downside to oily fish is that they contain certain pollutants that are present throughout the environment, usually as a result of industrial processes and household fires, and while these pollutants will not have an immediate effect on your health, high levels of these in your body can lead to problems arising over time.
In some parts of the world, oily fish features heavily in the diet, and these areas experience a significantly reduced amount of heart disease and other health issues. With so many different types of oily fish out there, it is an easy food to consume more of, and there are a number of exciting ways in which you can cook the fish to make it appealing even to those that are not usually fans of seafood.