Another fantastic article from freelance writer, qualified nutritionist and fitness instructor Helen Bowes on the benefits of Seafood for the whole family…
Fish is a Healthy and Delicious Way to Support Your Child’s Health
Fish has long been referred to as “brain food,” and in the last couple of decades, scientific research has finally started to discovery just why fish has this reputation. Many studies show that omega-3 fatty acids are important for good health, and also that a high proportion of people don’t get enough of these essential fats in their diet. This goes for children as well as adults; but luckily there are easy ways to get more of these important nutrients. Fresh, tasty fish like salmon and other fatty fish are high in omega-3 fats, and make a great addition to a healthy diet. As well as this important benefit, fresh and tinned fish are rich in many other health-promoting nutrients, including several essential vitamins and minerals.
The Benefits of Omega-3 Fats in the Diet
Many scientific studies have been conducted to determine what kinds of health benefits can be gained from omega-3 fats and fish oils; the results indicate that these fats may reduce the risk of prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, enhance the memory, and provide protection from depression. There is also plenty of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids of the kind found in fatty fish may have wide-ranging benefits for children. For example, children with ADHD are more likely to be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, with low blood levels of these essential fats, and side effects like dry hair and skin. Several studies also provide evidence that omega-3 fats may help alleviate some symptoms of ADHD. In some children, adding omega-3 fats to the diet improves attention span and other ADHD symptoms. Other studies have shown that children who have learning difficulties that affect their reading, writing, and math ability might benefit from omega-3 supplementation. Fish that contain plenty of omega-3 fats include salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, and trout. Fresh and frozen tuna, but not tinned tuna, is also high in omega-3 fats.
Vitamins and Minerals
As well as those all-important omega-3 fatty acids, fish is also rich in many other essential nutrients. For example, fish is a very good source of B group vitamins, as well as vitamins A and E. As well as these, fatty fish is also the best dietary source of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that many people are deficient in. Just what does the body use all of these nutrients for?
- Vitamin A is one of a group of related vitamins that function as anti-oxidants and are important for eye health.
- B vitamins are crucial to bodily processes that convert food into energy and many B group vitamins play other important roles in the body too.
- Vitamin D is essential for bone health, helps regulate blood sugar, and promotes the health of the immune system.
- Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant that protects cells from free radical damage, and may also play an additional role in promoting heart health.
Fish is also rich in a number of minerals that support good health. Due to the mineral-rich composition of seawater, fish and other seafoods tend to be good sources of many essential minerals, including potassium, magnesium, iron, and iodine.
- Magnesium is used by the body in many ways; it’s essential for health muscle and nerve function, supports the heart and immune system, and is important for bone health too.
- Iron is a component of hemoglobin, the molecule that allows red blood cells to transport oxygen around the body.
- Potassium helps the body regulate blood pressure and is also important for kidney health and function.
- Iodine is essential for normal thyroid function, and since the body can’t make its own iodine, it must be added to the diet.
- Fish that is consumed with bones intact, such as tinned salmon, is also a good source of calcium, needed for building strong bones and for nervous system function.
The importance of providing children with plenty of nutrient-rich food can’t be over-stated. It’s absolutely crucial that children have access to the nutrients they need to build strong, healthy bodies and minds, and the energy they need to stay active. Fish is an excellent source of protein and essential fats and nutrients to support growth and development.
How Much Fish?
The UK Department of Health recommends that we eat two portions of fish a week, including one portion of fatty fish like salmon or sardines. For adults, the portion size is around 140 grams, and for children, a smaller portion depending on their age and activity level. As well as this the Department of Health recommends a total of 1.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per week, which can easily be obtained by eating those two portions of fish.
This is a freelance article by Helen Bowes