Fish makes for an incredible meal. You can enjoy beautiful plates of perfectly grilled salmon, delicately baked cod, or spicy fish tacos. There are tuna poke bowls to devour, as well as vibrant fish curries and chowders, blackened redfish, fish and chips, and so many more wonderful options. No matter what you order or buy, or how you like it prepared, fish truly is one of the most delicious and satisfying foods you could ever pile on your plate.

But besides its delightful taste, there are a bounty of other reasons we should all be eating fish as frequently as possible. It’s high in protein and relatively low in calories, making it a great option for anybody looking to eat more healthily. And the benefits just go on from there.

Here are eight more of our favorite reasons to love fish!

Reasons to love fish with a spread of raw and cooked fish with vegetables with a hand squeezing lemon over the fish.

1. Fish is great for our hearts

“Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fats, which are amazing for the body and the heart,” says Christopher Mohr, Ph.D., R.D., a registered dietitian and founder of Mohr Results. Omega-3s slow the buildup of plaque in our arteries, reducing the risk of blood clots that might later trigger heart attacks and strokes.

“These healthy fats are also known to help people better manage their triglyceride levels and may play a role in helping to control blood pressure,” Mohr says.

“Research has also shown that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation throughout the body, lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals,” adds Jerlyn Jones, R.D.N, a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of The Lifestyle Dietitian.

Fish is so good for our hearts, in fact, that one study published last year in the medical journal Nutrients found that eating two to three servings of fish per week could reduce the risk of all forms of cardiovascular disease by nearly 10%.

2. Fish is good for the brain

Numerous studies have linked fish consumption to everything from better memory and quicker reaction times to a reduced risk for degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s as we get older.

“Fish is an important ‘brain’ food because of those same omega-3 fatty acids, particularly one form called DHA, which helps to keep the brain functioning normally and efficiently,” Jones says.

“Our brain is composed mostly of fats, so it needs more healthy fat in order to function properly,” adds Roxana Ehsani, R.D., a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and board-certified sports dietitian. “Research has shown that omega-3s found in fatty fish can improve cognitive functioning and may even lower risk for cognitive decline as we age,” she says.

Reasons to love fish with a father and daughter sitting on a dock fishing.

3. Fish helps children grow up strong and healthy

In addition to fueling strong adult bodies, fish of all types provides a great start for babies and children, Jones says.

And she’s just one of many in the nutrition world to share that belief. According to Elizabeth Ward, R.D., a Boston-based registered dietitian, nutritionist, and author, of all the foods that we can eat, “fish has the greatest impact on brain development and brain health throughout our entire life,” she says.

“Most experts recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women consume more fish than other adults — 12 ounces a week,” Ward continues. “This is because the high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fats you get from fish are so crucial to maximizing brain and visual development during pregnancy and the first years of life. Eating fish on a regular basis is a habit to get into early in life and to maintain throughout one’s life for optimal heart, eye, and brain health,” she says.

4. Fish can help boost your mood

Fish has been called one of the culinary world’s natural antidepressants, and for good reason.

“There is some impressive data around omega-3 fats and mood,” Mohr says. “More than 30 clinical trials have tested omega-3 fats in people with depression, and those tests have shown many promising results.”

Potential payoffs of regular fish consumption include a lessening in the severity of depression symptoms, better ability to regulate mood, and better emotional well-being overall. Eating fish alone can’t make depression go away, but it should certainly be part of a diet strategy in dealing with the condition, he says.

MORE: How to Eat More Fish

In addition to omega-3s, “fish also provides an excellent source of vitamin D,” Ehsani adds. “Many Americans can end up running quite low in vitamin D, especially during the winter months — this is when seasonal affective disorder (SAD) becomes an issue. Being low in this ‘sunshine vitamin’ can increase your likelihood of depression. Getting sufficient vitamin D is important because it can help you deal with this deficiency and, at the same time, elevate your mood.”

Outdoor couple smiling at each other while fishing.

5. Fish promotes healthy vision

What’s good for the heart and brain is also good for our eyes, Ward says. The retina in each eye is responsible for relaying the images you see to your brain so that you know what you’re looking at. And these cells need DHA in order to function at their peak and ward off disease.

In what’s called a “meta-analysis,” wherein researchers compare the results of a number of different previously published studies, Chinese researchers reviewed data analyzing the health and diets of more than 120,000 people. In doing so, they found a distinct link between fish consumption and a lower incidence of various vision illnesses. Their final conclusion? Eating fish regularly is one way we all can reduce our risk for age-related vision loss as we get older.

6. Fish is like a multivitamin on a plate

“Fish as a whole provides a ton of nutrients,” Mohr says. “Two that are critical, and often under-consumed by most, are omega-3 fats and magnesium. Both are considered ‘shortfall nutrients,’ meaning most people don’t get enough regularly. Eating fish can help with that.”

“In addition to high-quality protein, fish also harbors many essential vitamins and minerals,” Ward agrees. “For example, salmon and trout are rich in vitamin D, which is difficult to find naturally in food. Many fish species supply substantial selenium, a mineral that helps protect cells against damage. And cod and haddock are excellent sources of iodine, a mineral you need to help regulate thyroid function.”

Reasons to love fish with a platter of fish and shellfish.

7. Fish may even help you live longer!

If mega doses of vitamins and minerals and stronger hearts, brains, eyes, and more aren’t reason enough to consider loading your shopping cart with fresh, frozen, or canned fish, consider this: Eating fish regularly is also connected to significant gains in longevity overall.

In a 16-year study of more than 240,000 men and 180,00 women published in 2018 in the Journal of Internal Medicine, researchers reported that individuals who ate fish the most often were significantly less likely to die during the course of the study than those who ate it the least frequently. Benefits of regular fish consumption included being 10% less likely to die of heart disease, being 6% less likely to die of cancer, being 20% less likely to die from respiratory disease, and a 37% reduction in deaths due to liver disease.

8. Fish can be prepared so many ways

With more than 32,000 types of fish in existence — and more than 200 that are considered highly eatable — the variety of fish that people can enjoy on a regular basis is nearly endless, as are the ways to cook it.

“When it comes to cooking, think grilling, baking, or straight out of a can,” Jones recommends. “Make fish tacos, add salmon to eggs, or enjoy sardines on crackers.”

“Canned and pouched salmon and tuna are incredibly convenient and cost-effective ways of eating fish,” Ward adds. She recommends making tuna or salmon burgers or sandwiches, or adding the protein to salads. “I keep frozen salmon and cod in 4-ounce portions on hand for quick and easy weeknight meals. You don’t have to buy fresh fish to get the benefits of eating fish more often.”

“Most Americans aren’t eating the recommended two 4-ounce servings of fish each week, yet it’s so quick and easy to cook,” Ehsani says. “People may sometimes not know how to cook it, but honestly, it’s the easiest protein to prepare. It doesn’t require much. Add fresh or frozen salmon filet to your grill, or bake it in the oven. You can even throw it in your air fryer. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and garlic before you cook it, squirt lemon juice on it after, and it’s done. It’s quick and easy, and it goes well with anything.”


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Author

Brian Good is a writer, editor, and project manager with more than 20 years experience in publishing. He's written for some of the country’s biggest magazine brands including Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Shape, Men's Health, Muscle & Fitness, US Weekly, AARP: The Magazine, and websites including Mashed, Health Digest, DiversityInc and others. Good specializes on topics including lifestyle, travel, pop culture, health, food and nutrition, spirits, products, politics, and activism.

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