Fish has been a staple in the human diet for ages, and for good reason. It’s one of the healthiest, highest quality proteins you can consume.
Fish is vitamin and mineral rich, containing many essential nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin B2, calcium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and iodine. But probably the most important health benefit of fish is its high content of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are most prevalent in…no surprise…fatty fish such as wild salmon, tuna, sardines, and black cod (also known as sablefish).
If you’re even a little health conscious, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about omega-3 fatty acids and their health benefits. Omega-3s have been researched thoroughly and, though research is ongoing, science agrees that they are important nutrients for the health of your brain and heart.
The most important thing that omega-3s do for your body is reduce inflammation. Excess inflammation is linked to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and more.
Two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are EPA and DHA, which are both long chain fatty acids. I don’t want to get too scientific, but it’s important to note that the long chain fatty acids found in fish are much better for your health than the short chain fatty acids found in some plants.
Since our bodies don’t produce omega-3s, we must get them through the foods we eat. You can also take supplements, but as Michael Pollan argues in his stellar work In Defense of Food, you should strive to get as much of your nutrition from food (as opposed to supplements) as possible.
There’s been a lot of controversy in the last few years over fish. Since pollution is growing and spreading to our oceans and rivers, fish have been absorbing toxins, such as mercury. These toxins are passed on to us when we eat the contaminated fish.
While we do eventually eliminate these toxins, putting them in your body in the first place isn’t a wise idea. For one thing, it takes our bodies a good deal of time to get rid of them, so they can accumulate in your system and cause illness.
Certain fish, such as wild caught salmon, are much lower in toxins than other fish. Salmon is one of my personal favorite health foods. Aside from very high levels of omega-3s, salmon also has a couple of other powerhouse nutrients.
Sockeye salmon is the richest food source of vitamin D known to science. Astaxanthin, a lesser known yet incredibly powerful antioxidant, has its own anti-inflammatory properties and is what gives salmon its unique color.
Even though certain fish, including wild caught salmon and sablefish, are lower in mercury and other toxins, you do need to be careful about where you buy fish. I recommend Vital Choice. They are well known and highly respected. From personal experience, I can tell you that their product is exceptional, and their service is fantastic.
(As a sidenote, NEVER buy farmed salmon. It is extremely high in toxins. “Atlantic Salmon” is farmed, so don’t be fooled. “Scottish Salmon” is usually farmed as well. Be sure to ask anytime you buy or order salmon if it is farmed or wild caught. Your best bet is to buy from Vital Choice, which offers not only wild caught salmon but a number of other healthy fish along with a nice variety of other healthy food choices.)
If you’re still concerned about the risks of eating fish in this day and age, the preponderance of published research suggests very strongly that the well-documented developmental and preventive rewards of fish-rich diets outweigh the minuscule, hypothetical risks to human health. I eat fish on a regular basis, and I buy from Vital Choice.