Health & Recipes

Fish: a complete food for better nutrition

Dr. Manisha Choudhury
Assistant Professor,
Department of Food Science and Nutrition,
Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat

Fish is one of most favorite food for most of the Indian, especially in North East India, West Bengal and Southern part of the country. Even many people cannot think of having a meal without fish in their diet in any form. Fish can be eaten in different forms starting from raw, cooked and dry form. People explore different recipes of fish adapted from traditional and modern ways. Most importantly, the benefits of fish is immense. Fish is among the healthiest foods on the planet. loaded with different essential nutrients for the body. Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids that are very important components for your body and positively impact cholesterol level and brain development. There is a huge number of evidence-based research which describe the benefits of fish in diverse aspects

  1. Fish is a rich source of macro and micronutrients:

    Fish is a rich source of high-quality protein, iodine, and various vitamins and minerals which many people lack in their bodies.
  2. Vitamin D and Fish:

    Fatty fishes like salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, and mackerel have essential fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin D. Vitamin D functions like a steroid hormone in our body and one of the essential component for bone health too. Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent worldwide ranging from 40% to 99%, and the prevalence in India is around 80%–90%. Fish and fish products are among the best dietary sources of vitamin D. Some fish oils, such as cod liver oil, are also very high in vitamin D.
  3. If we don’t get much sun and don’t eat fatty fish regularly, we may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement.

  4. Cardiovascular diseases and Fish: Fatty Fish also provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for optimal body and brain function and strongly linked to a reduced risk of many diseases, especially non-communicable diseases like cardiovascular disorders, Hypertension, etc. It may lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes, too as per scientific evidence-based researches. Heart attacks and strokes are the two most common causes of premature death in the world and in our country. As per recent Lancet study, the prevalence of heart disease and stroke has increased by over 50% from 1990 to 2016 in India. These diseases' contribution to total deaths and disease burden in the country has almost doubled in the past 25 years. Heart disease is the leading cause of disease burden in India, and stroke is the fifth leading cause. In this scenario, proper dietary habits are one of the most crucial aspects to address these conditions. Fish is considered one of the most heart-healthy foods which you can eat. In one study in more than 40,000 men in the United States, those who regularly ate one or more fish servings per week had a 15% lower risk of heart disease.
  5. Addressing Depression:

    Fish can also help in the prevention and treatment of depression. Depression is a common mental condition nowadays. Low mood, sadness, decreased energy, and loss of interest in life and activities are the common characteristics of depression. Depression is recognized as one of the most common health problems linked to aggravation of any other diseases. Studies have found that people who eat fish regularly are much less likely to become depressed and more lively than others. Moreover, numerous controlled trial studies also reveal that omega-3 fatty acids may fight depression and significantly increase antidepressant medications' effectiveness. Fish is also useful in other mental conditions like bipolar disorder.
  6. Autoimmune Diseases and Fish: Autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes occur when your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues. Several studies link omega-3 or fish oil intake to a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes in children and a form of autoimmune diabetes in adults. The omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in fish and fish oils may be responsible for this.
  7. Prevention of Asthma in children: Asthma is a common disease characterized by chronic inflammation of our airways. The rate of this condition has also increased day by day due to many environmental and other reasons. Studies reveal that regular fish consumption is linked to 24% lower risk of asthma in children, but no significant effect has been found in adults.
  8. Protects vision in old age: Fish and omega-3 fatty acids may protect against old age eye problems and vision-related diseases as per some evidence-based studies. People who eat more fish have a much lower risk of Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as per different studies. In one study, regular fish intake was associated to a 42% lower risk of AMD in women
  9. Anti-Aging Properties: Due to diverse nutrients, the fish, especially the sea fishes, have anti-ageing properties. Because they preserve eyesight, reducing macular degeneration and promotes better night vision. Regular consumption of seafood and sea fishes is healthful for our joints and relieves rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. This also helps in weight loss and the fatty acids can also protect skin over time, protect against sun damage, increase moisture, and maintain a youthful glow in our face.
  10. Fish may also improve sleep quality:

    Sleep disorders are prevalent now a days. Today many people suffer from sleeplessness due to stress and other factors. A good diet can play an essential role in addressing this. Fish is one of the wonderful food which can help in reducing sleeplessness. Apart from the increased exposure to blue light, vitamin D deficiency also has an effect in sleeping. So, evidence reveal that, fish is having a beneficial effect on reducing sleeplessness. In a 6-month study in 95 middle-aged men, a meal with salmon three times per week led to improvements in both sleeps.
  11. Tasty and easy to prepare:

    Fish is delicious and easy to prepare. Therefore, it can be relatively easy to incorporate it into our diet. Eating fish one or two times per week is considered sufficient to obtain its benefits.

    Fish is a wonderful source of many essential macro and micronutrients which are helpful in many aspects. Regular consumption can do wonders in a health perspective. For non-vegetarian Indians and others, fish should be incorporated in our diet plan to benefit from it.