Fish is a great catch in more ways than one—the omega-3 fatty acids can help you stay healthy from head-to-toe, and the benefits keep showing up year after year. Here, four science-backed reasons you’ll want to serve it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
You might delay hearing aids.
The latest: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, found in favor of consuming any type of fish—from salmon to tuna—to keep your ears sharp. Researchers analyzed data from more than 65,000 nurses who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II, one of the longest running studies into women’s health, from 1991 to 2009. After follow-up, they found that 11,606 participants reported hearing loss—however, women who ate at least two servings of fish every week were associated with a 20 percent reduced risk of decline. These findings line up with a 2010 Australian study that also showed a link between regular fish consumption and delayed hearing loss in adults.
Your brain will thank you.
An August study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that specifically baking or broiling your fish once a week may be beneficial for brain health. Study participants who refrained from fried fish and opted for a healthier preparation had just over 4 percent more volume in brain regions associated with memory, and 14 percent more volume in regions associated with cognition.
Little ones can breathe easier.
A study based in the Netherlands analyzed health and diet information from about 7,200 children born between 2002 and 2006. They split the sample into children who ate fish in their first six months of life, the next six months, or who did not eat it until after one year. Only 30 percent of children who ate fish in their first year reported wheezing, compared to just under half of the other children.
It’s heart healthy.
The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish per week, which includes salmon, trout, or albacore tuna, and research has shown that adding fish to your diet can reduce the risk of abnormal heartbeats and lower blood pressure. Specifically, a 2007 study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that incorporating fatty fish into meals once or twice a week led to a 36 percent decrease in risk of cardiac death.
But not all fish are created equal. Although a 2011 Harvard School of Public Health study found no link between mercury exposure and heart disease, Consumer Reports and the Food and Drug Administration recommends certain groups, including women who are pregnant or might become pregnant, avoid fish high in mercury, like tuna or swordfish. And while fish should be a staple in your diet, some species are overfished and caught in ways that could permanently damage marine life. For more on choosing sustainable fish, click here.
Looking for recipe inspiration? Try one of these satisfying meals.