There are health benefits of fish you might not be noticing.
Not only is fish packed with protein, but it also contains other important nutrients like vitamin D.
Fish it also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which your brain and body need.
Need more convincing? Below are ten health-related benefits of fish.
#10 Fish Benefits Growth and Development
Fish contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary for growth and development.
Research also indicates that DHA is also necessary for proper development of the eye. (3)
Because omega-3 is so important to development, doctors often recommend that pregnant and nursing mothers ensure that they are getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. (4)
However, because some kinds of fish contain high levels of mercury which can harm the developing brain, pregnant women are cautioned against eating them.
In general, pregnant women should avoid eating big fish that are predatory, like shark, king mackerel, and swordfish. They should also avoid uncooked fish, such as sushi.
The FDA recommended that pregnant women eat between 8 and 12 ounces, or 2 to 3 servings, of fish to receive the benefits and avoid the risk of harming the developing fetus. (5)
The Bottom Line: Pregnant women should eat 2 or 3 servings of fish per week to promote brain and eye development in the baby. However, they should avoid uncooked fish and certain kinds of fish that may be high in mercury.
#9 Benefits of Fish and Essential Nutrients
Fish contains nutrients most people don’t get enough of, like high-quality protein, iodine, and some vitamins and minerals.
While all fish is good, some kinds of fish are better for you than others.
Fatty fish like trout, salmon, tuna, and mackerel are considered better for you because they are high in necessary fat-based nutrients.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones and evidence also supports the role of vitamin D in preventing certain diseases like cancer and type 1 diabetes. (7)
Fatty fish also contain more omega-3 fatty acids, than other kinds of fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are very important to brain function. (8)
To ensure you’re getting enough omega-3, health professionals recommend eating one or two servings of fish per week. One serving is equal to 3.5 ounces of fish. (9)
The Bottom Line: Fish is an excellent source for many of the nutrients you may be missing, such as vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish are the best source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
#8 Improving Mood by Eating Fish
Fish may also help with other mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder. One study showed that 64% of participants who took omega-3 fatty acids experienced an improvement in symptoms compared to only 18% of those who received a placebo. (14)
The Bottom Line: The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish can quite literally make you a happier person since they may protect against depression and increase the efficacy of antidepressant medications.
#7 Benefits of Fish and Vitamin D
The importance of vitamin D to one’s wellbeing bears repeating.
Vitamin D is incredibly important to the body because it helps your body to absorb calcium. (15)
Sadly, 41.6% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D. (16)
Fish are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D. In fact, 3 ounces of wild-caught salmon contains 425 International Units (IU) of vitamin D compared to the 42 IU found in beef liver, which is also considered a good source of vitamin D. (17)
The body can also gain vitamin D from sunlight, but with the use of sunscreen and cautions against skin cancer, you may be unable to get enough vitamin D from sunlight alone.
If you don’t currently get enough vitamin D from exposure to the sun and if you don’t eat fish regularly, you can also get vitamin D from some fish oils, such as cod liver oil.
The Bottom Line: A large number of Americans aren’t getting enough vitamin D. Adding more fatty fish to your diet can help ensure that you get enough of this essential vitamin.
#6 Benefits of Fish and Brain Health
One of the reasons fish benefits brain function by affecting gray matter; the tissue responsible for memory and cognitive function.
Research showed a connection between eating fish and improved brain functionality. (20)
The Bottom Line: Fish benefits brain function.
#5 Benefits of Fish and Reducing the Risk of Autoimmune Diseases
Autoimmune diseases affect healthy cells. A common autoimmune disease is Type 1 diabetes. (21)
Type 1 diabetes is known as an autoimmune disease because the immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.
The Bottom Line: Eating fish may reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes.
#4 Fish Benefits Sleep
Sleep disorders are a common problem all around the world.
While there may be many causes of sleep disorders, new evidence suggests that a lack of vitamin D could be linked to sleep disorders. (27)
In one study involving 81 people who were diagnosed with sleep disorders, researchers found that 65% of them were deficient in vitamin D. (28)
Another study involving 95 men that lasted six months showed that eating salmon three times per week improved both sleep and the ability to carry out daily tasks. (29)
The Bottom Line: Adding fish to your diet may improve the quality of sleep.
#3 Benefits of Fish and Eye Health
Many older people suffer from macular degeneration, which is a major cause of blindness and vision impairment. It affects more than 10 million Americans. (31)
Evidence suggests that eating fatty fish just once per week can reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration by 50%. (32)
One study suggests that it is the DHA in fish that is responsible for the reduced risk. The results of the study showed that participants who got the highest levels of DHA reduced their risk of macular degeneration by 38%. (33)
The Bottom Line: Eating fish may help reduce vision problems.
#2 Fish Benefits Asthma in Children
Asthma, a condition in which airways are chronically inflamed, has been on the rise over the past couple of decades. (34)
One study showed that children who ate fish on a regular basis had a 24% lower risk of asthma. (36)
The Bottom Line: Some evidence exists that indicates taking fish oil can improve asthma symptoms. There is also evidence that eating fish reduces the risk of asthma in children.
#1 Fish Benefits Heart Health
The Bottom Line: Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The Bottom Line on the Benefits of Fish
Adding fish to your diet could make a difference in your health and medical conditions.
Summer Banks, Director of Content at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 weight-loss programs, pills, shakes and diet plans. Previously, she managed 15 supplement brands, worked with doctors specializing in weight loss and completed coursework in nutrition at Stanford University. full bio.