The Health Benefits of Fish
Fresh from the cool sea
to restore body and mind
nature's healer comes
— haiku poem by Vital Choices reader Ginny Eash
Omega-3s and Human Health
Fish – especially fatty fish like wild Salmon, Tuna, Sardines, and Sablefish are the only abundant food sources of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA and DHA.
The results of countless studies indicate that these vital food factors promote optimal health. (The short-chain omega-3s in plant foods are not as beneficial as the omega-3s in seafood ... to learn why, click here.)
Vist our Omega-3 Facts and Sources page to learn more about the types of omega-3s, their role in the body, and the daily intakes recommended by U.S. health agencies and various world health authorities.
The American Heart Association (AHA) says that the ways in which omega-3s reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease are still being studied, and that research shows that omega-3s have the following effects:
Decrease the risk of arrythmias, which can lead to sudden death.
Decrease triglyceride (blood fat) levels.
Decrease growth rate of atherosclerotic (arterial) plaque.
Lower blood pressure modestly.
In addition, omega-3s are shown to improve the ratio of HDL ("good") cholesterol to total cholesterol, and this ratio is the most accurate predictor of cardiovascular risks. The AHA makes these recommendations:
People without documented coronary heart disease: Enjoy two servings of fish per week.
Patients with diagnosed coronary heart disease: Consume 1,000 mg (1 gm) of omega-3s daily, preferably from fatty fish or fish oil supplements.
Patients who need to lower triglycerides: Take 2 to 4 gm of omega-3s daily.
Patients taking more than 3 gm of omega-3s per day from fish oil capsules should do so only under a physician's guidance.
We would add this caution: Persons diagnosed with heart disease especially those using implanted cardiac defibrillators or taking blood thinning drugs should consult a physician before taking supplemental omega-3s or any other dietary supplement.
Click here to view the omega-3 content of Vital Choice seafood products per 3.5 oz (100gm) serving.
The health benefits of dietary omega-3s are blunted when diets are high in the omega-6 fatty acids that dominate most vegetable oils (corn, safflower, soy, canola, cottonseed) and the packaged and restaurant foods that contain them. Instead, use oils relatively low in omega-6 fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, macadamia nut oil, and special "hi-oleic” sunflower oil.
To learn more about this critical health issue, see the sidebar at right, titled "America’s Sickening 'Omega Imbalance'".
Other Beneficial Nutrients in Fish
Fish are also the richest food sources of three other valuable food factors:
Vitamin D offers uniquely strong bone-building and anti-cancer benefits. Tuna and wild salmon are the richest food sources known; click here to see the vitamin D content of various fish species For more information on this overlooked nutrient, go to our newsletter archive, see Articles by Topic in the right hand column, and click on the topics listed under Vitamin D.
Astaxanthin is the powerfully anti-inflammatory, carotenoid-class antioxidant that gives wild Salmon its characteristic red-orange color.
Selenium is an essential mineral needed to make enzymes that play key roles in the body's internal antioxidant network.
Safety Issues: Fish Rewards Clearly Outweigh Risks
The subject of fish safety is plagued by exaggeration, imbalance, and distortion.
We sell only exceptionally pure wild seafood that's naturally low in mercury and manmade pollutants. (For more on this, visit our Purity page.)
But the preponderance of published research suggests very strongly that the well-documented developmental and preventive rewards of fish-rich diets outweigh the minuscule, hypothetical risks to adult, child, or fetal health.
For more on this topic, see:
Our Purity Story
Video Explains Seafood's Clean Safety Record
Seafood: Weighing the Risks and Benefits
More-Fish-for-Moms’ Report Affirmed
Mothers and Kids Urged to Eat More Fish
Fight Over Mercury Risks Muddied by Bad Science
Mercury-Fighting Mineral in Fish Overlooked
Findings Verify Safety and Value of Higher Maternal Fish Intake
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Here's what some experts say about the importance of diet and omega-3 fatty acids to your health:
"Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can stop arrhythmia before it triggers sudden death from heart attacks. That makes fish such as salmon as potentially potent as any high tech heart drug and considerably cheaper to stock up on."
— Alexander Leaf, M.D. (deceased), Professor Emeritus, Harvard University
"Omega-3 fatty acids have so many biological roles because they are a primary element of health for virtually every cell and organ system in the body. Along with their partners, the omega-6 fatty acids, they keep our bodies in balance, modulating such basic physiological functions as inflammation, cell signaling, blood pressure, immune response, and the electrical excitability of heart and brain cells."
— Professor Andrew Stoll, M.D., Harvard Medical School
"By far, the best type of omega-3 fats are those found in fish. That's because the omega-3 in fish is high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. The human brain is also highly dependent on DHA, and maintaining high DHA levels can help deter depression, schizophrenia, memory loss, and Alzheimer's. Omega-3 is also very important for pregnant women and children, as researchers are now also linking inadequate intake of omega-3 to premature birth and low birth weight, and to hyperactivity in children."
— Joseph Mercola, D.O., founder/director, The Optimal Wellness Center
"My anti-aging patients often start out eating fish two to three times a week. When they see how quickly their skin improves, they are quick to increase their intake to five to seven fish meals a week."
— Nicholas Perricone, M.D., author of "The Wrinkle Cure, The Perricone Prescription, The Acne Cure"
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Health and Wellness Resources
(vitamins, minerals, nutrients*, herbs, nutraceuticals)
Medline Plus - Herbs & Supplements
Office of Dietary Supplements - National Insitutes of Health (includes RDAs/DRIs for nutrients)
Essential Fatty Acids in Health and Chronic Disease (Artemis P. Simopoulos, MD)
Fish, Omega-3s, and Cardiac Disease
Harvard Medical School
Pregnancy and Nursing
Ask DrSears.com ("America's Pediatrician")
What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish (EPA)
The Vital Role of Essential Fatty Acids for Pregnant and Nursing Women
American Heart Association
A comprehensive overview of fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids from a source you can trust.
Ask Dr. Weil
A wonderfully rich website with advice, healthy recipes and answers to hundreds of health related questions from Dr. Andrew Weil, one of America’s most respected health and wellness experts.
All proceeds from Dr. Weil’s website and newsletter go to support this non-profit organization which promotes optimal health and wellness through a holistic "integrative” approach.
One of the world's most visited health sites. Founded, directed and edited by Joseph Mercola, D.O., author of The No-Grain Diet. Mercola.com is known for its depth of information on diet and nutrition.
Christiane Northrup, M.D, is internationally known for her holistic approach to women's health. As a practicing physician for over 20 years, Dr. Northrup is a leading proponent of medicine and healing that acknowledges the unity of the mind and body, as well as the powerful role of the human spirit in creating health.
USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center
U.S. diet guidelines and nutrient/calorie content of foods.
A portal to the Web sites of a number of multi-agency health initiatives and activities of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other Federal departments and agencies.
NOTE: The statements on this Web site have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes. Consult a health care professional in regard to the personal use of any health-related products, especially if you have any existing medical condition.
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