Sushi and Health – Omega-3 Fatty AcidsSushi is A Healthful Food
Fish is widely recognized as a healthful food. High in protein and low in fat, countless types of fish are actually staples in many parts of the world. Even those fish that are higher in fat are still healthful and heart friendly, unlike many terrestrial meats that can be high in saturated fats. Most fish is high in the particular types of fats referred to as “Omega-3” fatty acids. These fats are essential to the human diet as we do not synthesize them biologically, and we must either consume the particular Omega-3s that our bodies require, or their precursor fatty acids which the body converts into the fats we use. These “fish oil” variety of these fats are originally manufactured by algae, and eventually are incorporated into the fish as they move up the food chain. The two most widely spoken of are abbreviated as DHA and EPA. These two Omega-3 fatty acids are currently being studied as they are now considered very healthful fats, alongside monounsaturated fats such as olive oil. Omega-3 fatty acids however may be better for you than you realize.
Potential Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to raise the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in the blood (the “good” cholesterol). This, in turn, can lower the amount of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood. In some cases, a person’s LDL can be raised slightly, however with a greater rise in HDL, a person’s ‘ratio’ can improve tremendously, which is an overall positive change to cardiovascular health. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to increase the particle size of the LDL in your blood, which is also considered a positive and healthful change.
The consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to be beneficial to those with type II diabetes, helping moderate blood sugar levels and epidemiologic studies have shown a lower prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance.
Studies have also linked the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids with improved endothelial (blood vessel wall) function, reduced platelet aggregability (blood clotting), and lower blood pressure. These are widely regarded cardioprotective benefits.
A report in the March 23, 2005 online issue of the Journal of Neuroscience indicates that a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Studies of Omega-3 consumption have shown a up to a 70% decrease of amyloid protein in the brain, the plaque widely regarded as the cause of Alzheimer’s.
Also remember that your central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and all nerve sheaths) is mostly DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid. The body is constantly in need of repairing and replenishing itself, so the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids is critical to maintaining proper central nervous system health.
Since Omega-3 fatty acids are required for proper development (which includes developing babies), pregnant and lactating women are encouraged to eat foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA. This includes many nuts and seeds, however fish is the richest source of these fatty acids and a great way to incorporate them into your diet. Raw fish is often avoided in western society during pregnancy, so nutritional supplements are sold specifically to target pregnant and lactating women, which are either fish oil or Omega-3 fatty acids taken directly from the algal source, specifically one called Neuromins, and sold as Expecta Lipil, among many others. If you can’t have the fish, you can have the next best thing. But remember, there is still plenty of cooked fish available if you choose.
Today, Omega-3 fatty acids are considered quite beneficial to cardiovascular health and seafood consumption is suggested by doctors the world around. Many people now take Omega-3 supplements, generally called ‘fish oil’ or “Omega 3 Oil,” to incorporate more of these fatty acids into their diet, which is perfectly fine, however we would like to remind our readers that deep, cold water fish are also excellent sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, and tasty too, so keep eating that sushi!
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