Research over the past few decades has shown that the nutrients and minerals in seafood can make improvements in brain development and reproduction and has highlighted the role for seafood in the functionality of the human body.
Doctors have known of strong links between fish and healthy hearts ever since they noticed that fish-eating Inuit populations in the Arctic had low levels of heart disease. One study has suggested that adding one portion of fish a week to your diet can cut your chances of suffering a heart attack by half.
Fish is thought to protect the heart because eating less saturated fat and more Omega-3 can help to lower the amount of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood – two fats that, in excess, increase the risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fats also have natural built-in anti-oxidants, which are thought to stop the thickening and damaging of artery walls.
Regularly eating fish oils is also thought to reduce the risk of arrhythmia – irregular electrical activity in the heart which increases the risk of sudden heart attacks.
The human brain is 10-12% lipids, including the Omega-3 fat DHA. Recent studies suggest that older people can boost their brain power by eating more oily fish, with those who enjoy it regularly are able to remember better and think faster than those who eat none. Other research has also suggested that adding more DHA to the diet of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can reduce their behavioural problems and improve their reading skills, while there have also been links suggested between DHA and better concentration. Separate studies have suggested that older people who eat fish at least once a week could also have a lower chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Including fish as a regular part of a balanced diet has been shown to help the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis – a painful condition that causes joints to swell up, reducing strength and mobility. Studies also show that sufferers feel less stiff and sore in the morning if they keep their fish oil intake topped up.
Recent research has also found a link between Omega-3 fats and a slowing down in the wearing of cartilage that leads to osteoarthritis, opening the door for more research into whether eating more fish could help prevent the disease.
Iodine, Selenium, Vitamin A, Zinc
Fish is high in minerals such as iodine and selenium, which keep the body running smoothly. Iodine is essential for the thyroid gland, which controls growth and metabolism, while selenium is used to make enzymes that protect cell walls from cancer-causing free radicals, and helps prevent DNA damage caused by radiation and some chemicals.
Fish is also an excellent source of vitamin A, which is needed for healthy skin and eyes, and vitamin D, which is needed to help the body absorb calcium to strengthen teeth and bones.