Why Improved Fish Intake Is Vital For Heart Health?

by Dr Mohammad Ashraf Rather, Sheikh Umar Ahmad

Mass cognizance campaigns to popularize the fish as a rich source of EPA and DHA are compulsory for harnessing the vital therapeutic and medical value in community nutrition.

Fishermen at work. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Fishes are consumed almost in all parts of the world and are known for their taste and nutritional value. Regular consumption of fish is considered a perfect balanced diet as they are rich in most of the essential nutrients of which the body relies on external sources.

Globally, fish associated products are thought to provide an average of only about 34 calories per capita per day but their dietary contribution is significant in terms of quality, easily digestible animal proteins and in fighting micronutrient mal deficiency. A 150g of fish can provide about 50-60 per cent of an adult’s daily protein requirement. It is an essential food in some small island developing states where the average intake of the protein remains very low from sources other than fishes.

Unlike, the catching through the netting, the practice involving Naarch badly mutilates the quarry. The fishhooks tear into their flesh; blood drenching the weapons.

Generally, among the majority of animals consumed as food, fish is having a high nutritional value for human health. Fish contains low fat and high-quality proteins and is rich in omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins such as D (calciferol) and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is an amusing source of calcium and phosphorus and many other minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium which are essential for the general physiological system of the body.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), taking fish at least two times a week as an element of the staple eating plan is certainly healthy. Fish is also filled up with proteins, vitamins, and nutritional elements that lower blood pressure and could greatly help in lowering the risk of heart attack or swing and stroke.

Fish as a source of omega-3 fatty acids and how are they good for your heart

Fishes mainly contain two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Omega-3 fatty acids are a kind of unsaturated fatty acid that cuts inflammation throughout the human body. Inflammation in the body can harm your blood vessels and is prime to heart disease and strokes.

Omega-3 fatty acids benefit heart health by:

  • Diminishing triglycerides in the body.
  • Dropping blood pressure slightly.
  • Lowering the risk of sudden cardiac death triggered by an abnormal heart rhythm.
  • lowers the risk of blood clot formation in the body as omega-3 fatty acids prevent blood platelets from clumping together.
  • Maintains smooth lining along the arteries and prevents from the damage that dense and hard arteries are associated with. This can help hold plaque from developing in the arteries.

The below table gives the omega-3 fatty acid content of some of the most commonly consumed fishes across the globe:

S. No Fish EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
1. Rainbow trout 0.40 g 0.44 g
2. Salmon 0.59 1.24 g
3. Mackerel 0.43 g 0.59
4. Seabass 0.18 g 0.47
5 Sardines 0.45 0.74

Source: USDA Food Composition Databases

Omega-3 fatty acid composition of important fishes commonly consumed in Kashmir valley

S. No Fish EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) (%) DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) (%)
1. Common carp 3.2 5.1
2. Snow trout 9.6 3.8
3. Rohu 0.9 0.4
4. Catla 6.8 4.7
5 Mirgala 1.5

Source: Mohanty et al., 2012  

High time for mass awareness campaigns to eat fish in Kashmir valley

From the past couple of years together, Kashmir has seen an unexpected surge in heart attack and stroke-related cases. There is a greater need in tackling the problem first hand at the regional level by adopting some heart health strategies. Fisheries scientists are opining that regular consumption of fishes could help in reducing the cardiovascular problems and can inturn alleviate the heart attack cases in Kashmir owing to their multi-benefits in improving the heart health.

Mohammad Ashraf Rather (SKUAST)
Shiekh Umar Ahmad

Health and media professionals have dedicated considerable attention to the benefits of consuming fish, but still, the consumption rate of eating fish is very less in Jammu and Kashmir as compared to other parts of India.

Mass cognizance campaigns to popularize the fish as a rich source of EPA and DHA are compulsory for harnessing the vital therapeutic and medical value in community nutrition. Fish can also be recommended under specific clinical conditions originating due to DHA and EPA deficiency and their utility in clinical nutrition can be significantly encouraged.

(Mohammad Ashraf Rather works as an Assistant Professor at Division of Fish Genetics and Biotechnology, Faculty of Fisheries, Rangil; Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Kashmir. Sheikh Umar Ahmad works as Senior Research Fellow (DST-INSPIRE) at CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine Jammu.)


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