Hey y’all, Lia’s Back! She is going to be re-starting her regular Friday column with Food Features. Be sure to watch for upcoming recipes with ideas on how to use the fresh harvest from your Aquaponics systems.

By Lia Jonsson

20140209_101941If, like many health conscious Americans, you have adopted Meatless Mondays, you can lift your good habits to the next level by adding fish to your diet on a regular basis. Fish will help lower blood pressure naturally and protect against sudden death from heart disease and stroke.

The American Heart Association’s nutrition committee has weighed in: The benefits of eating fish twice a week are overwhelmingly positive. It’s the Omega-3 fatty acids that make the difference. The human body doesn’t produce Omega-3, but oily fish like salmon, sardines, herring, trout and tuna have it in abundance. Getting it from the food you eat is better than taking a supplemental fish oil capsule, partly because fish on your dinner plate replaces other less beneficial protein.

Fishy benefits don’t end there, however. In addition to the lean protein it supplies, fish provides healthful amounts of Vitamin D and B2, calcium, phosphorus and a wealth of iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and iodine, according to the Washington State Department of Health. Before you switch to fish for every dinner, though, check this Healthy Fish Guide. It is possible to get too much of a good thing, and you’ll want to limit your exposure to harmful mercury and avoid the harmful PCBs that collect in the fatty areas just under fish skin. There are also environmental and “overfishing” issues.

How you put that fish on your plate is up to you: Buy it fresh or frozen, wild-caught or farmed, or catch it yourself, but prepare it simply. Leave off the batter and don’t fry it in oil or cover it with cream sauce. Sometimes a little lemon is all you’ll need for seasoning; grill or bake your favorite filet and serve with grilled, roasted or sauteed fresh veggies for a truly healthful meal.20140209_102235

Eating fish improves cardiovascular function, corrects abnormal heart rhythms, counteracts mental stress, improves memory and aids vision. There is also evidence that it reduces inflammation, helping to alleviate arthritis pain; it may also decrease the risk of Rheumatoid arthritis. Those who habitually consume alcohol may lower their risk of dementia by eating fish. There is overwhelming evidence that Omega-3s contribute to brain development, both in the fetus and for infants and young children. Finally, fish may improve depression, forestall Alzheimers Disease, inhibit oral and skin cancers and decrease diabetes risk.

Numerous studies confirm that in cultures traditionally known to consume a fish-rich diet, including Nordic peoples, Mediterranean populations and the Asian nations, people live longer, generally healthier lives. Other factors are at play, of course, including other dietary habits and exercise, but there is a correlation that is undeniable.

Putting fish on your plate on a regular basis is one of the simplest and best ways to ensure continuing health and vitality.

Sources and links:
Washington State Department of Health
Harvard School of Public Health
American Heart Association
Forbes Article on Healthy Diets