Globalization and improved transport routes and means make it possible: even landlocked countries can enjoy fish virtually anytime and almost anywhere. Fish is also becoming increasingly popular in Germany: according to statistics that are only a few years old, every German consumes an average of between 15 and 20 kilos of fish per year.
Fish: recommended by nutrition experts
Many nutrition experts recommend to put fish on the menu regularly. Best eaten at least twice a week, writes for example the German Society for Nutrition. Fish provides high-quality protein, fatty acids important for the body, trace elements essential for metabolism. There are actually some reasons to consume fish regularly. But: has fish as a food only positive features? Top health tips has prepared for you a small balance..
What are the positive aspects of regular fish consumption?
There is a reason why fish is on the menu of many people these days, even if they don’t live directly on the coast. Here are the most important ones:
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The protein in fish is relatively easy to digest
Many people have problems with dairy products, with eggs, with soya. Especially red meat is nowadays considered to be a health risk. The Damocles sword of breeding, keeping and environmental problems hangs over poultry meat, which is healthy in itself. Fish is a pleasant and welcome alternative to other foods.
The protein in fish is relatively easy to digest for many people, even if they suffer from digestive disorders. It is also said that fish provides protein of a high bioavailability.
Fish provides a healthy fatty acid profile
It’s also a well-known fact that marine fish, and especially fish from cold sea regions, are particularly rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. They are the fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have particularly beneficial nutritional properties. They are essential for brain and nerve metabolism. They have an anti-inflammatory effect. They protect the heart and blood vessels. Nutritionists especially recommend eating mackerel, sardines, anchovies and salmon because of their omega-3 fatty acid content.
Fish strengthens the memory
One of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is docosahexaenoic acid, abbreviated to DHA. Several studies have found that when these fatty acids are consumed regularly, memory and intelligence increase. Fish also contains organic phosphorus compounds, which also contribute to memory enhancement. With the regular consumption of these fatty acids you also prevent dementia.
Fish strengthens the thyroid gland
Fish contains trace elements and amino acids, including iodine, tyrosine and selenium. Unlike iodized table salt, the amounts of iodine that sea fish provides are natural. Regular consumption of fish optimizes the function of the thyroid gland.
Fish contain a fat antidepressant
Another advantage of the fatty acids contained in fish: They seem to reduce the risk of organic, that is, metabolic depression. Several studies with countries in which comparable living conditions prevail and more or less fish is consumed prove this.
Fish: what are the negative aspects of eating fish??
But as the saying goes? All that glitters is not gold. This also applies to the consumption of fish. First of all, of course, there are environmental aspects: many types of fish have become scarce. Their commercial catch and consumption is therefore not a good idea from an ecological point of view. Ecological problems are inherent in the consumption of fish in other ways as well, such as.
Depending on the region where the fish is caught, the type of fish and the quality of the catch, the health disadvantages of eating fish may even outweigh the benefits. Heavy metals (mercury, tin), organic acids and even radioactivity in certain ocean regions are reasons to reconsider regular fish consumption. In addition, the accumulation of plastics and nanoparticles in the world’s oceans is triggering more and more fish and health concerns.
It is not only man-made problems in the world’s oceans that make regular consumption of fish problematic. Natural toxins, such as those caused by microorganisms, also accumulate in fish through the food chain. Especially fish from warm regions becomes a problem. Ca. 50.000 people experience poisoning from so-called ciguatoxins every year, many more again from scombroid fish poisoning.
Quality and freshness
Further processing has never done fish any good: fish sticks, for example, are not a healthy food. But even with fresh or. frozen fish, it is essential to pay attention to the freshness and quality. Cloudy eyes, fishy smell and yielding to finger pressure indicate that the fish could be fresher. By the way: the classic fish smell already indicates a certain degree of putrefaction!
More and more people are sensitive to histamine. If the fish is not fresh, if it is smoked or even in canned fish, it quickly accumulates a dose of histamine that is dangerous for sensitive people.
Aqua farms / fish farming
Fish from so-called aqua farms is problematic for many reasons: the confinement, the stress, the lack of oxygen, the misuse of antibiotics suggest to rather stay away from fish from aqua farms. Whoever reaches for such fish should at least pay attention to organic quality.
Which types of fish are recommended, which are not?
The further up the food chain you go, the less recommended the fish becomes. Predatory fish should rather be avoided. They are at the bottom of the food chain and natural pollutants and environmental toxins from smaller fish and microorganisms such as plankton accumulate in them. You should also steer clear of crustaceans and generally anything from the sea that has no fins.
The following types of fish are of least concern ecologically:
- Wild salmon and pollock
- Anchovies (the last three from cold sea regions)
- Pike perch
- Brown trout (organic)
Keyword: Fatty acids! What if you are an absolute fish-averse??
Especially important for vegetarians and vegans. If there’s one nutrient that’s hard to substitute for fish-goers, it’s long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Algae such as Schizotrychium and Ulkenia provide long-chain omega-3 fatty acids even for those on a purely plant-based diet.
That being said, it is important to keep in mind that nutrient capsules cannot impart the same positive effect as eating high quality fish.
On the one hand, good fish is nowadays much more readily available to everyone than it was a few decades ago, especially in regions far from the coast. On the other hand, there are not inconsiderable health and ecological problems associated with eating fish. This is especially true when eating fish from aquaculture. High-quality cold-water fish, which has not become rare or threatened with extinction, is, however, a useful addition to the diet for non-vegetarians!