Why is eating fish good for you?
Eat more fish and less meat.
It's so simple, really, but this is probably the most powerful change that you can make in your diet. Much of the research on the benefits of fish stem from research on Inuit natives and their high consumption of salmon with a correspondingly low rate of heart disease. Over time we've come to understand that this is because they are eating fish that are high in monounsaturated fats, especially Omega 3 fats.
There's lots of research on the power of fish to prevent heart disease. This means fatty fish or "dark fish" like tuna, salmon, sardines, swordfish, mackerel or bluefish, which are all high in Omega 3 fatty acids. There is now evidence that the salmon you'll have for dinner tonight can actually treat heart disease!
A study compared 229 women who had already been diagnosed with heart disease. Researchers tracked whether the participants ate 2 or more servings of any kind of fish each week (or 1 or more serving of dark fish). After three years, the results showed that those who ate more fish had less progression of their heart disease.
There's also evidence for fish being beneficial for many health problems, including osteoporosis and infections. There are even studies that show that fish has a major role in the prevention of cancers, including kidney, skin and colon cancers.
The old adage that "fish is brain food" is true, and many studies support this conclusion. One study reported that a single meal of fish per week reduced the normal age-related decline in intelligence by 10% to 13%. This is the equivalent of being mentally three or four years younger. In another study, scientists looked at fish consumption as it relates to mental decline. Those who did not eat fish had a decline 4 times the rate of those eating fish twice a week or more.
Just as with vegetables, I have lots of patients say that they just don't like to eat fish. My reply is the same as with veggies: make a list of fish (or shellfish) that you do like (it will be longer than you might think) and then look for healthy recipes. Even if you don't like stronger tasting fish, like tuna and salmon, freshwater fish, which are lighter tasting, may appeal to you. While leaner freshwater fish such as trout, bass, and whitefish may not be the best source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they still have them and they're still both delicious and low in both calories and fat.
Make eating fish part of your meal plans at least twice a week.