It’s Not Just the Type of Fish You Eat: How You Cook it Matters Too

We all got the memo – including fish in your diet regimen has a number of health benefits. It’s a well-known fact that the omega-3 fatty acids found in healthy fish like salmon and mackerel have plenty of benefits to your overall well-being, such as reducing heart disease and decreasing inflammation. But there is mounting evidence to suggest that not only is the type of fish that you eat important, but the way the fish is prepared is equally as significant.

Researchers have been conducting studies over the past few years showing the influence of the preparation and cooking method used to prepare fish dishes on one’s health. Scientists and doctors have suggested that broiling or baking the fish is the best way to prepare fish for heart health. On the other hand, frying fish actually has the opposite effect on a person’s health. Studies have linked fried seafood to heart failure and other adverse health conditions.

Over the decades, studies that have been conducted have continuously linked the fatty acids, EPA, DHA and ALA found in fish to decreased levels of heart disease, high blood pressure, and oxidative stress. According to experts, not all fish are created equal. Darker fish breeds – also referred to as “oily” or “blue” fish – had far greater health benefits than white fish with like cod, snapper and sole. Consuming a diet rich in dark fish, such as salmon, mackerel and bluefish, can improves one’s overall health and longevity.

How the fish is prepared is also extremely important. Frying fish not only kills many of the nutrients that are closely related to reducing health issues like heart disease and high blood pressure, but it also adds certain things to the cooking process that are potentially harmful. The trans fatty acid content of the fish is dramatically increased when it is fried, which has been linked to a higher risk of developing heart disease.

In a recent study, about 85,000 premenopausal women were tracked for about 10 years.The differences in longevity and heart disease between those who consumed regular servings of baked or broiled fish, versus those who ate manly fried fish, were looked closely at. After about a decade, the women who ate baked or broiled fish about 5 times per week had a 30% lower risk of developing heart disease, as compared to those who only ate one. In addition, participants of the study who fried their fish had a 48% higher chance of heart failure, even if only consuming one serving per week.

Scientists have concluded that preparing fish by baking or broiling, and eating it frequently throughout the week, can be highly beneficial in a number of areas of one’s health. In the case of the premenopausal women, regular consumption of baked or broiled fish had a significant effect on reducing heart disease. The suggestion here is that many types of fish are fantastic sources of lean protein that contribute to overall health. Everyone should be increasing proportions of these types of protein, and limiting other more harmful sources that contain higher levels of saturated and trans fats.

These studies are fairly consistent with others done in other parts of the world. Yet this newer study adds some interesting facts on consuming darker breeds of fish as opposed to just white fish. This study was able to find that baked or broiled fish preparation is associated with lower risk of heart failure through other mechanisms aside from lowering the risk of a heart attack, which is generally the precursor to people who suffer from heart failure.

Considering the enormity of the issue of heart disease, it’s essential that the findings of such studies are relayed to the general public through continued education and information from health care physicians. In the U.S., approximately 5.7 million people are affected in some way by heart failure. Even if the patient has a functioning heart, it may not necessarily be able to pump blood to the rest of the body properly.

Making significant lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, being physically active, taking certain medications, maintaining a healthy body weight and eating healthy sources of foods like dark fish, can have positive effects on a person’s health and longevity.

Remember – the way you prepare your food has just as much of an influence on your health as the food itself.

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