8 Proven Health Benefits (Fatty) Fish + Best Species
If you live in a country that is connected by the ocean, but where little fish is eaten. Then that is a terrible sin.
Eating fish namely has a lot of health benefits to the human body. And that has to do especially with the healthy fats that are found in oily fish.
In addition, you will learn in this article:
- Which three forms of omega 3 fatty acids exist
- Which shapes are in which products?
- Why Omega 3 fatty acids are so important to the brain
- What is the correct dose of omega 3 fatty acids
- What is the disadvantage of eating large fatty fish
In 2/3 of the countries on average a person eats about 25 kilos of fish per year. That may sound like a lot, but if you compare this with some other countries, this is very little.
The absolute winners are Iceland and the Maldives where they eat an average of 90 and 165 kilograms of fish per year per person. And let those countries now also have much less trouble with certain diseases of prosperity that we have to deal with heavily in many countries.
That fish is healthy, almost everyone knows that. That it is generally healthier than meat, most people know too. And yet much more meat than fish is consumed.
I hope to be able to change that by writing this article.
What are omega-3 fatty acids
That fish is so healthy has everything to do with omega-3 fatty acids. These are unsaturated fatty acids. And these fatty acids are found in very few products, one of which is fish. But to understand the difference between different fatty acids, I teach you a little bit of “Fatology” below.
You can subdivide fats in:
- Saturated Fats
- Unsaturated Fats
- Trans Fats
The latter does not really belong in the list, because most of the trans fats we eat do not occur in nature at all. These are made in factories in a special way and this is also the reason why trans fats are very unhealthy.
For example, trans fats are found in margarine, fried foods, pastries, cakes, sweets and cakes. Of all these products you can say that they are unhealthy and that you should avoid them.
The difference between saturated fats and unsaturated fats has everything to do with the structure formula, but I will not kill you with that. What you only need to remember is that saturated fats are mainly found in animal products such as meat, butter, milk, cheese and also in chocolate.
Unsaturated fatty acids
Then we go on to the unsaturated fats, of which omega 3 is one. There are two types of unsaturated fatty acids:
- Single unsaturated fatty acids
- Multiple unsaturated fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids belong to the latter group. When a fatty acid contains multiple double bonds, it is a polyunsaturated fatty acid.
Omega-3 fatty acids, therefore, contain multiple double bonds. The first double bond is located on the third atom, hence the name.
Omega 6 fatty acids also contain multiple double bonds. The first double bond is then on, you guessed it, the sixth atom. This is therefore very easy to remember. And in this list also the following fatty acids belong:
- Omega-7 fatty acids
- Omega-9 fatty acids
And if you think that all fatty acids have the same effect on the body because they are so similar, you are wrong. The omega-3 fatty acids, in particular, are very healthy, in contrast to the other fatty acids.
EPA, DHA en ALA
Okay, omega-3 fatty acids.
There are three forms of these fatty acids:
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
The first two forms are mainly in fatty fish and the latter is more in vegetable products.
All three are very healthy and have many advantages, but there are still two that stretch the crown.
It turns out that especially EPA and DHA have many health benefits. ALA is not necessarily less healthy, but appears to be less active in the body.
ALA must first be converted to EPA or DHA to achieve the same health effects. Now that does not have to be a problem. Only the body can only convert a small part of the ALA.
It turns out that our body can convert only 5% of ALA to EPA and 0.5% can be converted to DHA (source). This, of course, does not make ALA worse, but you do need a lot more to finally get the health benefits out of it.
Health benefits of fatty fish + best varieties
Fish that are very fatty usually also contains the most omega-3 fatty acids. This is why especially fatty fish is also so healthy.
The fat-rich fish species are:
In general, these fish species are also the healthiest. It is said that farmed salmon contains fewer omega-3 fatty acids than wild salmon, but it appears that cultured salmon generally contains more omega-3 fatty acids.
Farmed salmon is fed throughout the day, while wild salmon has to search for food all day long. That is why farmed salmon is often fattier and contains more omega-3 fatty acids.
Tip # 1: Fatty fish improves your cholesterol level
It is perhaps the weirdest thing to say, but by eating the right fats, you improve your cholesterol levels.
This is incomprehensible to many people. They think that a high cholesterol level is unhealthy. But it is not that simple.
A high cholesterol level of the blood says nothing about your health. Because cholesterol comes in two different forms:
- HDL cholesterol
- LDL cholesterol
HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is seen as the bad cholesterol. Ideally, you, therefore, have high HDL cholesterol and low LDL cholesterol. When a doctor tells you that you have high cholesterol, always ask for the two specific values.
A high HDL cholesterol is in fact very healthy. It even appears that low HDL cholesterol is one of the largest predictors for the development of cardiovascular diseases (source). This says even more than a high LDL cholesterol. So do not just let you fool.
Now that you know that a high HDL cholesterol level is healthy, I can also tell you that omega-3 fatty acids are very healthy for cholesterol. These fatty acids appear to increase HDL cholesterol (source, source).
You create good cholesterol levels by eating the right fats.
Do you want more information about how you can improve your cholesterol levels? Then read the article below:
Tip # 2: It reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome
The metabolic syndrome is a disease that you probably do not know. And yet it is a collective name for diseases that you know very well.
The metabolic syndrome is characterized by:
- Overweight (a lot of belly fat)
- Insulin insensitivity or diabetes type 2
- Worse cholesterol levels (low HDL, high LDL)
- High blood pressure
The above problems often go hand in hand. And in general, all this has to do with an unhealthy lifestyle.
Often, overweight people also have bad cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and are insensitive to insulin. That is why the collective name “metabolic syndrome” has arisen.
Metabolic syndrome is a major health problem in Western countries. More and more people have the above problems and therefore have an increased chance of many other welfare diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia.
Which brings me equal to the omega-3 fatty acids. These can reduce insulin resistance and inflammatory processes. And they can improve risk factors for heart disease in people with metabolic syndrome (source).
Now, of course, this does not mean that you can keep an unhealthy lifestyle if you also eat fatty fish once a week. The major drawbacks of an unhealthy diet do not outweigh the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
Tip # 3: It reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
With this tip, the whole story of tip # 1 and tip # 2 comes together.
When you experience the problems of the above diseases, the chances of developing your cardiovascular disease are many times greater. But this is also where omega-3 fatty acids take on a hero role. There are numerous studies that show that omega-3 fatty acids have a proven healthy influence on heart and blood vessels.
- Research 1: A review of 3 articles with a total of 32,000 participants showed that omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) reduced the number of cardiovascular accidents by 19 to 45 percent (source).
- Research 2: a large study involving 11,000 subjects showed that mortality from cardiovascular disease decreased by 45% in people who took omega-3 fatty acids (1000 mg/day) (source).
- Research 3: 22,000 people participated in this study and lasted 17 years, showing that people who had a lot of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood were five times less at risk of having a heart attack (source).
If I have not yet convinced you, then I will not know it anymore. Official agencies now also advocate the use of omega-3 fatty acids in cardiovascular diseases. You should think of government agencies such as:
- The American Heart Association
- The European Society for Cardiology
- The US Food and Drug Administration
And when this type of authority advises this, the evidence must be very strong and exist for a long time.
But how exactly do omega-3 fatty acids work in the heart and blood vessels?
Omega-3 fatty acids are built into the walls of our cells, making the walls more fluid which ensures that proteins can float better in the cell walls. This makes the walls of our blood vessels healthier and smoother. Healthy blood vessel walls ensure that fewer lumps are formed in our blood vessels, which greatly reduces the risk of a heart attack.
Tip # 4: They reduce the chance of depression
And if you think that omega-3 fatty acids only have a good effect on the heart and blood vessels, then you are wrong. There is a whole tune of the positive effects of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids also have a very positive effect on the brain.
77 percent of our brains are water. When we remove all that water, the so-called dry weight remains. Of this dry weight, our brains appear to consist of 60% fat. Our brains are therefore a fat-rich organ.
It is therefore not surprising to think that fatty acids play an important role in the brain. In this way, they help with the construction and maintenance of the brain. And especially omega-3 fatty acids help with this.
For example, omega-3 fatty acids also appear to have a major influence on the development of depression.
For example, in countries where little fish is eaten, depressions do occur tens of times more than countries such as where fish consumption is very high (source). Omega-3 fatty acids also appear to be able to reduce depressive symptoms in, for example, manic depressive people (source).
The positive influences on our brains are therefore great. But not only on our brains, but also on those of your unborn child.
Tip # 5: You get more intelligent children
This is perhaps the best tip of the blog. Because what is more beautiful in life than give birth to a healthy child in this the world? Many people describe this as the most beautiful day in their lives.
But what exactly do you have to do to put a healthy child on the earth? I can answer a part of this question:
- By eating a lot of omega-3 fatty acids as a mother.
Of course, there are always disorders where heredity plays the greatest role. I can not help you with that, unfortunately, but when it comes to the development of the brain of the fetus, or.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a very important role in the growth and development of the brain of the fetus. Children whose mother ate sufficient fish during pregnancy had a higher IQ than the children of mothers who ate less fish.
And then it concerns both verbal, cognitive and motor intelligence. These all improve if the mother receives enough omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy (source).
The funny thing is that many government agencies do not recommend eating fatty fish when you are pregnant. Fatty fish is contaminated with toxic substances and that is somewhat true, but the advantages of oily fish definitely outweigh the disadvantages of these heavy metals, researchers say (source).
The risk due to the loss of nutrients is greater than the risk caused by eating the trace elements in fatty fish.
You can read more about these so-called toxic substances later.
Tip # 6: Decreases the risk of dementia
Omega-3 fatty acids not only play an important role in the development of the young brain, but also in the maintenance of the older brain.
Cell walls of brain cells consist mainly of fats, which is why they also play an important role in the maintenance of the brain cells.
For example, a large neurological study in which 899 people were followed for nine years shows that people who had high levels of omega-3 fatty acid DHA in their blood had half less chance of developing dementia (source). Eating oily fish twice a week was enough to ensure that you were 50% less likely to develop dementia.
The fact that omega-3 fatty acids are important for the brain has been proven.
But what does that have to do with it?
Omega-3 fatty acids and the functioning on the brain
The walls of our brain cells consist largely of fats. Omega-3 fatty acids settle in the walls of the brain cells so that they become more fluid and supple. Proteins that float around in it can communicate better with each other and that especially at the synapses. A synapse is a place where two cells make contact with each other and where signals are transmitted. More fluid synapses mean better signal conduction, which ensures a better functioning brain. This makes the brain more resistant to diseases and depression.
Tip # 7: It reduces inflammation in the body
When you hear the word inflammations, most people think of something negative. But what they do not realize is that inflammation is a very natural process of our body.
When something goes wrong in the body, there is always an inflammatory response. This is what the body does to make the problem worse and keep our body healthy. Only when the inflammatory reactions are chronic or happen to the body’s own cells, it can cause problems.
And that is where omega-3 fatty acids also have an important function. They can actually slow down these kinds of inflammatory reactions.
Omega-3 fatty acids and their anti-inflammatory effect
Omega 3 fatty acids can inhibit inflammation by acting on an important protein in the body. This protein is also called Cox (cyclooxygenase).
This is a protein that produces substances, which then cause inflammation.
A nice fact: Aspirin is an anti-inflammatory that blocks this protein, which causes it to act as an anti-inflammatory agent.
This cox protein not only makes inflammatory substances, but also anti-inflammatory substances. It makes anti-inflammatory substances from omega-3 fatty acids. That is why omega 3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect.
Opposite this protein from omega-6 fatty acids makes inflammation-promoting substances. You want to avoid that as much as possible. That is why it is so important to have a good balance in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.
Tip # 8: They lower the symptoms of ADHD
ADHD is a behavioral disorder characterized by:
You may now wonder what omega-3 fatty acids have to do with this. I will explain that to you:
Research showed that children with ADHD had fewer omega-3 fatty acids in the blood when compared with children without ADHD (source).
After which, studies were done on the effect of omega-3 supplements on ADHD. And these certainly proved to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Omega-3 fatty acids, for example, turned out to improve inattention and the possibility of completing a task (source).
Omega-3 fatty acids also appeared to reduce hyperactivity, impulsivity and restlessness (source).
And if you think these improvements are small, then you are wrong. Recently, researchers evaluated the evidence behind various treatments for ADHD. And this showed that the administration of fish oil supplements is one of the most promising treatments (source).
My favorite fish oil for omega 3 fatty acids
I choose Fiskolia Pure Omega 3 Herring Fish Oil & Astaxanthin myself. This is a bottle instead of capsules, which is much easier to use and leads to fewer farmers. In addition, this fish oil is very fresh which is very important. This is pure omega-3 oil of 100% Arctic wild fish with cold-pressed olive oil, vitamin D3 and added fresh lemon flavor.
How much omega 3 is healthy?
You can eat too much of every nutrient.
- After all, too much fruit is not healthy, because then you get too many sugars
- Too much meat is not healthy, because too much animal protein causes aging.
- Too much exercise is also not healthy, because this quickly causes injuries.
.Actually this applies to everything that the word TOO stands for.
But that’s the nice thing about omega-3 fatty acids …
… you can never eat too much here. It turns out that people who ingest a lot of omega-3 fatty acids are very healthy in many ways.
What can only be the case is that extra omega-3 fatty acids have no extra positive side effects at some point. But they probably will not have a negative effect on your body. But to make it concrete, I’ll mention some numbers below.
To obtain a protective effect on heart and blood vessels, at least 500 mg omega-3 fatty acids per day are recommended. This is the form of EPA and DHA. You can get these from fish or from supplements.
The same applies generally to the prevention of depression. However, if you are already suffering from depression, studies often use 1 to 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day to treat it.
I always advise you to take a mixture of EPA and DHA. This is because especially DHA plays a favorable role in cardiovascular diseases and EPA plays a favorable role in mental disorders.
This way you protect both your heart and blood vessels and your brain. The combination is always found in fatty fish and often in supplements.
If you eat oily fish twice a week, this is equivalent to taking a capsule of 500 mg omega-3 fatty acids every day. Nevertheless, I advise you to get as much fish out as possible. Supplements should be seen more as a supplement to your diet.
The disadvantage of fatty fish
So far all the advantages of oily fish and the omega-3 fatty acids it contains. And yet there is one small disadvantage that fish has. I have mentioned it earlier in this article.
Fish contains toxic substances.
Our oceans are not nearly as clean as they should be. Now I am not going to have a social debate about environmental pollution here, but in these polluted oceans the fish are swimming, which we then eat again.
Salmon, mackerel and other high-fat fish swim in these oceans, allowing mercury to accumulate in their bodies. Now, this happily sounds worse than it is. It turns out that the amount of mercury in fatty fish is fortunately very low.
In addition to mercury, other toxic substances can accumulate in the fish. But to avoid the number of toxic substances, it is best to eat small fish.
It’s like this:
The larger the fish, the more toxic substances accumulate in the fish. Bigger fish contain a certain amount of toxic substances, but then eat the small fish that in themselves also contain toxic substances. These toxic substances cannot be eliminated and therefore accumulate with every fish they eat.
In this way, it also appears that a small sardine contains less toxic substances per body tissue than tuna or salmon. The smallest amount is in algae and crustaceans.
Did you know that research shows that 1 in 3 just gains from a diet instead of losing weight? (source)
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