What are the Health Benefits of Consuming Fish?

Fish is a type of meat which has been consumed since ancient times. Even though there has been an increased awareness on the benefits obtained from consuming fish, in most of the countries the intake is far from enough 1. By not having a regular consumption of fish, the diet lacks of several essential nutrients. Firstly, most fish varieties contain above 20% of good quality protein. Protein is a key nutrient which is required for essential body functions. Protein contributes to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass and to the maintenance of normal bones. Regarding micronutrients, fish contains good sources of vitamins D, calcium which contribute to the normal muscle function and to the maintenance of normal bones and phosphorous contributes to the maintenance of normal bones. Group B vitamins such as niacin and B12 contribute to the normal energy-yielding metabolism and to normal psychological function.

Fish, in particular oily types, have the peculiar characteristic of being low in saturated fats (SFAs) in proportion to the concentration of polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs). Two important polyunsaturated fats are called omega 3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and are essential because our bodies cannot produce them in sufficient quantities so as a result it is required to get them from food and/or supplements.

A regular intake of omega 3 has been linked with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, so there is a considerable amount of evidence substantiating the importance of EPA and DHA on heart; brain and eye function health2, 3.  These omega-3 fatty acids occur naturally in oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and krill. Omega-3 fats are therefore commonly referred to as “fish oils”.

Even though there is strong evidence on the health benefits of these essential omega 3 fatty acids, current Western diets lack of enough DHA and EPA. Most of the people do not currently eat oily fish on a regular basis to obtain the necessary concentration of fatty acids, current statistics show that 80% of the world’s adult population have a mean intake of omega 3 from fish which is below the recommended 250 mg/day1. Likewise, in Europe the general recommendation for the adult population is to consume 250 mg of DHA and EPA per day4.

Fish is a naturally rich source of omega 3 but decent concentrations can also be found in cultivated marine algae, marine mammals and krill. EPA and DHA may also be provided by foods and supplements enriched with omega 3 (e.g. fish oils, single cell oils, krill oils added to foods or consumed as food supplements)5. 

In order to obtain the required amount of essential fatty acids, the adult population is encouraged to eat 2 portions of oily fish per week. People who do not regularly eat fish could alternatively eat nuts and seeds e.g. walnuts and pumpkin seeds; vegetable oils e.g. rapeseed and linseed; soya and soya products e.g. beans, milk and tofu; and green leafy vegetables which will provide alpha linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is also an essential omega 3 fatty acids and the recommended daily dose is 2 grams per day. It is the most abundant omega 3 fatty acid in food found in vegetable sources which then gets converted to EPA and DHA by the body6. In order for this to happen, food sources containing ALA should be regularly consumed and the efficiency of this conversion is linked with the consumption of an essential omega 6 fatty acids called linoleic acid, commonly found in vegetable oils along with almond and egg yolk. It is worth highlighting that this process is not efficient enough to fulfil body needs and fish still needs to be consumed in a regular basis.

Even though, certain barriers are frequently faced against consuming fish due to its strong flavour, smell, worries about finding fish bones and potential risks from water contaminants (i.e. heavy metals: mercury), fish oil supplements are only an alternative to supplement the diet. Fish oil supplement help to correct some nutritional deficiencies or maintain adequate intake of these essential nutrients; however, they should not be used to as a way to replace fish in the diet. Eating fish brings a whole array of health benefits besides the presence of omega 3. Fish oils supplements could potentially contribute to obtain the recommended dose of EPA and DHA which contribute to the maintenance of a normal function of the heart as well as to the maintenance of normal blood pressure and normal blood triglycerides.

 

 

As part of its food supplements portfolio, Herbalife contains Herbalifeline® Max. This is a food supplement containing omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. DHA and EPA contribute to the normal function of the heart, normal brain and normal vision.

  • Herbalifeline® Max is a blend of sustainably sourced omega 3 fish oils (DPA + EPA)
  • It also contains essential oils from thyme and peppermint to reduce any after taste. The capsule is suitable for vegetarians
  • EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart (the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 250 mg of EPA and DHA)
  • DHA contributes to the maintenance of normal brain function and normal vision (the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 250 mg of DHA)
  • DHA and EPA contribute to the maintenance of normal blood triglyceride levels (the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 2 g of EPA and DHA).
  • DHA and EPA contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure (the beneficial effect is obtained with a daily intake of 3 g of EPA and DHA).

References:

  1. Micha R, Khatibzadeh S, Shi P, Fahimi S, Lim S, Andrews KG, Engell RE, Powles J, Ezzati M, Mozaffarian D;Global Burden of Diseases Nutrition and Chronic Diseases Expert Group NutriCoDE..(2014). BMJ. 15;348:g2272. doi: 10.1136/bmj.g2272.
  2. Zheng J, Huang T, Yu Y, Hu X, Yang B, Li D. Fish consumption and CHD mortality: an updated meta-analysis of seventeen cohort studies. Public Health Nutrition. 2012; 15(4):725–37.
  3. Chowdhury R, Stevens S, Gorman D, Pan A, Warnakula S, Chowdhury S, et al. (2012). Association between fish consumption, long chain omega 3 fatty acids, and risk of cerebrovascular disease: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ;345:e6698.
  4. EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition, and Allergies (NDA); Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for fats, including saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, and cholesterol. EFSA Journal 2010; 8(3):1461. [online] Available at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1461.htm [Accessed April 21, 2017].
  5. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel  on  Dietetic  Products,  Nutrition  and  Allergies  (NDA);  Scientific  Opinion  related  to  the Tolerable  Upper  Intake  Level  of  eicosapentaenoic  acid  (EPA),  docosahexaenoic  acid  (DHA)  and  docosapentaenoic  acid (DPA).  EFSA  Journal  2012;10(7):2815.  [48  pp.]  doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2012.2815.  Available  at: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2815
  6. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). SCIENTIFIC OPINION Labelling reference intake values for n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies on a request from the Commission related to labelling reference intake values for n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids 1 (Question No EFSA-Q-2009-00548) Adopted on 30 June 2009. The EFSA Journal (2009) 1176, 1-11. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2903/j.efsa.2009.1176/pdf
  7. Wood, KE. Mantzioris, RA. Gibson, RA. Ramsden, CE. Muhlhausler, BS. (2015).The effect of modifying dietary LA and ALA intakes on omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid (n-3 LCPUFA) status in human adults: A systematic review and commentary. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids (PLEFA); 95 (47-55).
  8. Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012. COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012 establishing a list of permitted health claims made on foods, other than those referring to the reduction of disease risk and to children’s development and health.
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