Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eat fish, live longer

Eat Fish
MEDICAL researchers love fish. The reason: a person who eats fish lives longer as it combats a lot of health threats.

"If you eat a modest amount of fish, you dramatically decrease your risk of dying from a heart attack," says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, a researcher of the Harvard School of Public Health.

Findings from 30 large studies conducted around the world show that people who consume just one or two servings of fish per week lower their risk of a fatal heart attack by an average of 36 percent.

That's good news for Filipinos as the Department of Health ranks heart disease as the number-one killer in the country. "The death toll from cardiovascular diseases in the country is about one every seven minutes," says Dr. Philip S. Chua, one of the country's top cardiologists.

Cardiovascular diseases don't affect the heart itself but also the blood vessel system, especially the veins and arteries leading to and from the heart.

If you have already a heart attack, shifting to a high-fish diet can cut your chances of future deadly attacks by one third. You see, fish contains oil that is nature's richest source of omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat that the body derives from food. Omega-3s (and omega-6s) are known as essential fatty acids because they are important for good health. The body cannot make these fatty acids on its own so omega-3s must be obtained from food, particularly fish.

The American Heart Association suggests that a person should eat at least two servings of oily fish each week to help keep his hearts healthy. Among the fish species high in omega-3s are bas (striped), herring, mackerel (Atlantic), oysters (Pacific), sablefish, salmon, trout (freshwater), and tuna.

Shrimp may not be considered a fish but it is still seafood. One study found that people who ate shrimp everyday for three weeks had a relatively small rise in LDL (touted to be the "bad cholesterol") but an even greater jump in HDL ("the good cholesterol"). Result: Their heart disease risk actually went down.

Consuming oily fish may likewise reduce the risk of developing asthma.

In a University of Cambridge study of 770 volunteers, researchers found that those with symptomatic asthma were less likely to report having eaten fish at least twice a week throughout the year than those without asthma.

Study author Dr. Bipen Patel believes that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish may reduce the production of substances that can cause constriction and inflammation in the airway.

The anti-inflammatory properties of fish oil have also been found to treat many medical conditions including rheumatoid arthritis.

Studies have shown that one teaspoon per day of cod-liver oil may help alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis by providing the body with substantial amounts of vitamin D and A. Vitamin D is important for bone growth, while vitamin A may have anti-inflammatory effects. Fish oils also compete with other types of fatty acids that are believed to trigger arthritis inflammation.

So when is fish not so good for your health? Recent studies have shown that almost all fish is contaminated with trace amounts of mercury.

Mercury compounds are found in farming chemicals and in certain antiseptics and dyes. They are used heavily in industry. Most of them are released into the rivers and brought into the open sea, where fish may consume them.

Once these mercury-laden fish are consumed by human beings, the metal can be accumulated in the human body. Large doses of mercury can damage developing brains, causing learning difficulties and other problems.

Children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to avoid some types of fish and shellfish to reduce their risk of mercury exposure.

Fish that contain the highest level of mercury are larger and older sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. It is probably a good idea for most people to avoid eating much of these fish. They can be replaced with other fish and shellfish such as shrimp, pollock, anchovies, catfish, clam, crab, haddock, hake, herring, salmon, sardines, shrimp, trout (freshwater), tuna, and whitefish, which all contain much less mercury.

If you are concerned about mercury, or if you just don't want to eat fish, you need to get omega-3 fatty acids from other sources. Among the plant sources are canola oil, flax seeds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.

The type of omega-3 fatty acids found in plants, called alpha linolenic acid (ALA), is not exactly the same as the fats found in fish, but experts say your body has the capability to transform ALA to both EPA and DHA.

Our very own tilapia has very low levels of mercury because it is a fast-growing and short-lived fish that mostly eats a vegetarian diet.

However, a study done in the United States has shown that eating tilapia is not good for those with heart problems.

"Cardiologists are telling their patients to go home and eat fish, and if the patients are poor, they're eating tilapia. And that could translate into a dangerous situation," said the researchers from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The American study found farm-raised tilapia has very low levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acid and, perhaps worse, very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. "In a fish-farming situation, the fish that you get depends on what they are fed," explained Dr. Floyd Chilton, a professor of physiology and pharmacology and the director of the Wake ForestCenter for Botanical Lipids.

"Now if these fish are fed, as in the wild, Omega 3 fatty acids and algae, then they're going to have long-chain Omega 3 fatty acids, which are going to be incredibly beneficial. However, if these fish are fed short-chain Omega 6 products that come from corn products which are happening so often now then what one sees is the long-chain detrimental Omega 6 fatty acids. So really the fish really are what they eat and we really are what we eat as well," said Dr. Chilton, who headed the study.
Alternative Health News
Read More

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Content

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...