Fish: The Wonder Food

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

I have followed the research on fish as a cardio-protective and anti-aging agent for 30 years. fish: the wonder foodAnd it is a cornerstone of my eating plan for optimal health.

What makes fish so important to any healthy heart nutrition plan is the fact that it is an abundant source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

As you may know, these are known as essential fatty acids (EFAs) because they are necessary for life itself.  Our bodies can’t manufacture EFAs, but you can get them through the food you eat.

Omeage-6 EFAs occur naturally in almost all nuts and seeds and is abundant in vegetable oils, including safflower, sunflower, corn, and soy.

Omega-3 EFAs are a bit more challenging to get from food because there are few original sources. The best sources for omega-3s are flaxseed, hemp, pumpkin seed oils, dark leafy green vegetables, walnuts, tofu, and fish. 

The source I prefer above all others is fish, especially salmon, because fish convert the omega-3 building block, linolenic acid, into two highly beneficial end products for our bodies: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).  EPA and DHA are great for rejuvenating the body at the cellular level.

The chart below shows the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in some of the most popular fish to eat:
 

 
Fish
Grams of EFAs
Salmon* 2.5
Halibut* 0.67
Trout (sea)* 0.58
Pacific Mackerel* 2.07
Flounder/Sole* 0.56
Whitefish* 2.06
Alaskan King Crab* 0.46
Coho Salmon* 1.87
Canned Crab* 0.36
Shrimp* 0.35
Sockeye Salmon* 1.42
Yellow Fin Tuna** 0.31
Atlantic Mackerel 1.42
Haddock* 0.27
Oysters (eastern) 1.25
Light Tuna (canned in oil, drained)** 0.20
Swordfish** 1.06
Atlantic Cod * 0.17
Tuna (canned in water, drained)** 0.95
Lobster (northern)* 0.09



* These fish are safe to eat two or three times a week.
** These fish are safe to eat once a month.

I encourage you, just as I encourage my private patients, to eat fish as often as possible, but please govern yourself according to the guidelines I’ve shared in this chart. While fish is a “wonder food” in my book, you must be careful to eat the right type of fish. 

 

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