In case my facts about fish aren’t enough motivation to include more fish in your diet, give this fresh and simple salsa a try.
Everyone has their own opinions about fish but here is the rationale behind my motivation to consumption:
Omega 3’s are fatty acids required for proper brain and nervous system function, cell-structure, growth and development, and aid in the prevention of chronic inflammatory conditions associated with most chronic diseases. Our bodies cannot make Omega-3’s from other fats and we must obtain them from the diet. These fatty acids are found in fattier fish (fish-oil), free-range eggs, and grass-fed beef/dairy. Omega-3’s can also be found in plant sources such as flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts; however, omega-3 is found in the form called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) must be converted to EPA and DHA (the functional forms naturally occurring in animal sources). This conversion is often low making plant sources inferior to the animal sources. Plant forms may also be high in Omega-6.
While omega-6 is also an essential part of our diet, the typical American diet contains WAY too much omega-6 thanks to all the plant oils found in processed foods. Omega-3’s suppress the inflammatory process while omega-6’s increase inflammation. The ratio of O-3:O-6 should be about 1:2; instead, it averages 1:20 in the Western diet leading to chronic inflammation. Anyone with autoimmunity, chronic inflammatory conditions such as bowl disorders, fibromyalgia, arthritis, heart disease, high-cholesterol…just to name a few…would do well to decrease Omega-6 intake and INCREASE Omega-3 consumption to help DECREASE inflammation.
I view fish as being a food people have been consuming for thousands of years. Unlike many other meat sources, fish do not have to be domesticated for us to consume them. Farm-raised fish are however, extremely prevalent and often touted as being a “safer” alternative to wild-caught fish; over-fishing and fears of toxicity has also lead to an increase in fish farms. However, these farms often house fish in crowded conditions and feed them GMO corn and other unnatural compounds that change the composition of the fish. A corn-fed fish gives you a hefty dose of none other than more omega-6 plant oils vs. the omega-3 oils.
If you are not eating enough high-quality wild-caught fish or avoiding it all together than you are missing out on vitamins such as A, D, B6 and B12, as well as natural cholesterol, iodine, zinc, magnesium, calcium, copper, and iron.
When animals are fed foods other than what they are designed to eat you end up with an inferior product. Tilapia, for example, is the new “fav fish” of the U.S. What people do not realize is that it is all farm raised and mass-produced because it is difficult to catch (aka bottom feeder). Bottom feeders are ‘garbage fish’, they eat whatever drops to the bottom…sounds yummy right? And the farming conditions are not much better. People have been tricked into loving it because it’s so “lean, low in fat or free protein”, but you are really getting a junk fish with no Omega-3 benefit. If you are looking for a truly healthy source of protein and fats, go for a wild caught fish that feeds on natural sea-plants and animals.
No discussion on fish is complete without this. I am not oblivious to the toxicity of mercury in the waterways thanks to the waste of the coal industry. It is pretty sickening to me how humans contaminate the natural world, and as a result we have to be worried about the fish we eat from the wild.
What does not receive much attention, however, is the fact that wild caught fish contain very high levels of Selenium, an essential mineral in brain and nervous function, and an antioxidant. Selenium binds mercury allowing it to bypass absorption into your blood stream. Many fish are higher in selenium than mercury or about equal, making the threat of toxicity to your body low. Smaller fish (fish that feed on marine plants vs. larger fish that feed on small fish) have been found to contain lower amounts of mercury as well.
Large Fish that contain more mercury: Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel
Medium Fish with less mercury: Snapper, Trout
Smaller Fish with the least mercury: Salmon, Herring
This is a great review article if anyone is interested in the science behind the element-nutrient interactions:
It is also important to know the source of your seafood and make sure it is not coming from contaminated areas.
If you do not have compromised gut flora or a damaged intestinal lining (which most Americans DO have to some extent) than heavy metals are less-easily absorbed, which is another reason why having a real-food diet with natural and fermented foods that supports the integrity of the gut lining is important.
Lastly, I find it ironic that the media and government make a huge to-do about mercury in wild fish being so dangerous to our health, yet they completely ignore the excessive pesticides on our produce, chemicals in our cleaning products, and sketchy processing methods of all the food consumed in the typical American diet linked to chronic diseases and cancers. You cannot demonize one food and ignore even larger issues going on with others. Check out my previous post for a great source of fresh fish from Lake Superior.
To wrap it up, don’t be afraid to consume good quality wild-caught fish. Look into fisheries on waterways you trust. Many of them sell fresh fish cheap and will ship to you. Let the benefits of fish be displayed in your health!