The benefits of eating fish are multiple – from improving eyesight to reduced skin ageing. And there’s more, it plays an essential role in reducing the number of deaths from cardiovascular diseases.
Spain is among the countries with the longest life expectancy and it is expected to be number one by 2030. The secret lies in the virtues of the Mediterranean diet which, naturally, relies on the frequent consumption of fish. Guillermo Aldama, interventionist cardiologist at the A Coruña University Hospital contends that “fish means health”. The data corroborates this.
Imagine you have to build a wall. Ideally, you would want to use the best materials to make sure it is sturdy and completely secure. This is exactly how our cells think. Cells are covered with a layer of fat which is essential in predicting their behaviour and helps them communicate with other cells – the better the quality of the fat, the better the cell function. And among all the fats on offer, the best are unsaturated fats. “Unsaturated fats are essential fats that our body is unable to produce – Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9. Of those, Omega-3 are the best”, lectured the doctor.
And where can we get Omega-3? In fish. Eating fish on a regular basis, at least twice a week, improves our bodily functions – it enhances neural and cognitive function, helps regulate cholesterol and even affects our mood and helps mitigate the symptoms of depression. Skin, joints, retina, our immune system… all benefit from these good fats in our cells.
The proof of this is that the countries with a Mediterranean diet not only have a higher life expectancy but also have a higher Global Health Index – i.e. better quality of life. In that respect, Aldama points out, “Spain is the country with the best quality of life in the world, ahead of Italy, Iceland and Japan”.
Fish above all else
If you are not convinced of the benefits of eating fish yet, here is another conclusive piece of information – Spain is the country with the lowest cardiovascular disease mortality rate, and it is because of its high marine fat diet. Again, Aldama leaves it up to the data to prove his point.
Hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease deaths in the world, but eating fish twice a week reduces stroke and heart attack mortality by 10% and 7% respectively.
And there’s more. By substituting 3% of meat protein intake by fish, mortality from heart attacks is reduced by 30%. When we eat more fish than the recommended two portions, for every extra 100mg mortality is reduced by another 5%.
And the list goes on. The risk of stroke goes down by 45% when we add fish to our diet. And the risk of death is reduced by 70% when it comes to sudden death cases.
Now, “the cooking method is important to preserve the benefits, so you must avoid deep-frying. You should prefer pan frying, baking, marinating or stewing”, Aldama specified, then adding, when prompted by Benjamín Lana, president of Vocento’s Gastronomy Division, that “canned and frozen fish also have all their properties and benefits intact”.
So, what’s for dinner?