What is Fish?
Fish has been an important source of protein for humans throughout history and has been a staple of coastal, riverside, and lakeside populations since time immemorial. Of all animal products, fish is usually thought of as the healthiest food choice, due to its high protein and low fat content. It is thought that the longer life spans of Nordic and Japanese populations are because of their higher consumption of fish and seafood.

While fish come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and flavors, the most important consideration in selection is how safe it is for consumption. Fish products have been shown to contain varying amounts of heavy metals, particularly mercury and fat-soluble pollutants from water pollution. Large fish, such as swordfish and shark, often have high levels of mercury, and are best avoided or eaten infrequently. Tuna boasts many health-promoting benefits, but is sometimes high in heavy metals, so it is not recommended for pregnant women and children.

Some of the best choices for your health are deep-sea fish like mackerel, Norwegian cod, halibut, wild-caught salmon, and small fish like fresh sardines and anchovies. Flounder, haddock, scallops, and shrimp also tend to be low in mercury.

Another consideration is whether the fish you are choosing is an endangered species; you will feel much better about the fish you eat if you know you are not depleting its populations. Form a relationship with a trusted fish vendor with whom you feel comfortable discussing where and how the fish you are consuming is caught.

What are the health benefits of Fish?
Considered warming in traditional Chinese medicine, fish is used to regulate blood, treat low energy, alleviate hemorrhoids, and to heal certain types of skin lesions.

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish, along with other nutrients, protect blood vessels from plaque, reduce inflammation, prevent high blood pressure, and help you maintain good respiratory health. Additionally, the combination of niacin and omega-3s in fish helps to protect your brain from Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.

The benefits of omega-3s don’t stop there: they also help protect against age-related macular degeneration, prevent dry eye syndrome, combat certain types of cancer, nourish your brain, and even positively affect your mood. Unfortunately, many people are deficient in this essential fatty acid, which is only found in fish, nuts, and seeds.

Are there any precautions for Fish?
Fish, especially shellfish, has been known to cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Avoid eating shark and swordfish, which have relatively high levels of mercury, more than once a week. Tuna is not advised for pregnant women or for children. Because mercury contamination varies geographically, take the time to learn about specific “Fish Advisories” that may exist for fish from the rivers or lakes where you live. You can get this information by contacting your local health department.

Raw fish, popular for sushi and ceviche, should be avoided unless you speak with a knowledgeable fish vendor.

Where can I find Fish?
Fish can be found in grocery stores, Asian markets, and fish markets.

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This entry was posted in Foods, Natural Health Dictionary.