Why is Fish so Good for You
Research suggests that people in the Mediterranean live longer and healthier lives than anywhere else, even taking into account high rates of skin cancer and smoking. Experts believe it’s the result of their diet--plenty of fresh vegetables, olive oil, and fish, with minimal processed food and red meat.
The Japanese have similar good luck: they have one of the highest life expectancies in the world on average, and experts say fish consumption plays a role.
Of course, fish isn’t the only factor at play. Still, many health organizations, including the American Heart Association, recommend eating at least 2 portions of fish a week. So, what’s happening here? What makes fish so healthy?
Protein is essential for most of the body’s chemical processes. It plays an important role in fighting off infections, converting food into energy, and building muscle. In dietary terms, protein is the macronutrient with the highest thermic effect. In other words, your body burns more energy digesting protein than it does digesting fat or carbs. Protein is also more satiating, making us feel more full compared to the same amount of calories from fats and sugars.
Where does fish come into this? We’re glad you asked! Fish has one of the highest protein-per-calorie ratios of any food. A 200 calorie serving of cod contains more than 40 grams of protein. To get the same amount of protein from chicken, you’d need to consume around 350 calories; from beef, you’d need 400-450; and 500-550 for lentils.
When it comes to pure protein, it’s hard to beat cod. Even whey concentrate, which is often touted as a pure protein source, contains an average of 20 grams per 100 calories. And it doesn’t taste nearly as good with a creamy sauce and a glass of wine!
Tinned fish is often overlooked. It has earned a reputation as being salty, oily, and bad for you, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Take our Wixter Sardines as an example. They contain a small amount of sea salt and are packed with high-quality olive oil, an ingredient that has been linked to an array of health benefits. The result is a delicious, nutritious snack that’s packed with healthy fats. You can eat them whole, add them to salads, chop them into tacos, and throw them into sauces.
And it’s not just sardines! Whenever you want to add a lot of flavor and some healthy fats, just reach for the tinned clams, mussels, or tuna bellies. Even squid is sold as a premium tinned product that can inject some protein-packed life into everyday dishes.
Most fish are incredibly low in saturated fat, the type of fat that’s linked to health conditions including heart attacks and strokes. Meanwhile, fish is packed with the “good kind” of fat, namely omega-3 fatty acids. These fats have been linked to a number of health benefits. They may help with heart, brain, and joint health.
These fats are the reason that the American Heart Association recommends eating at least 2 portions of oily fish a week, to lower your risk of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and other such issues.
Fish is a great source of vitamin D, a nutrient you’re probably lacking if you live in a colder climate or spend a lot of time indoors. That’s because we get vitamin D not only from food, but absorbed through the skin via sunlight. On top of supporting bone health and immunity, vitamin D helps us absorb calcium, which is also found in fish.
B vitamins like B-12 and B-2 are also abundant, as are potassium, magnesium, zinc, iodine, phosphorus, and iron. Some of these nutrients are more readily available than others, but adding a little fish to your diet is an easy way to ensure your body is getting the support that it needs.
Variety is the spice of life--and the spice of, well, food! A healthy diet includes a balance of protein, fat, carbs, and nutrients, and fish can help with that. It’s easy to add some protein and quality fats to your diet by combining fish with salads, starches, and even other meat. And the wide variety of fish means you’re not likely to get tired of it anytime soon. Whether you’re snacking on sardines, making a sauce out of mussel meat, or enjoying some battered cod, there are so many flavors to explore. Happy eating!