(dge) Cardiovascular diseases are still the number one cause of death in Germany. Nutrition is a factor that can influence these diseases. In particular, n-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. What are the health benefits of eating fish, which is rich in long-chain n-3 fatty acids?? Reason for the DGE to take a closer look at the foodstuff.
In a comprehensive literature review, the DGE analyzed more than 50 studies on fish consumption and its influence on diet-related diseases and concluded that regular fish consumption – especially of fatty fish – can reduce the risk of fatal heart attacks, ischemic strokes, and dyslipidemia. The latter is due to the fact that regular fish consumption reduces the triglyceride concentration in the blood and increases the HDL cholesterol concentration. The influence on the risk of high blood pressure is currently not clear. Further studies are necessary to prove possible effects. The DGE recommends one to two portions of fish per week, 70 g of which should be fatty sea fish such as salmon, mackerel or herring.
The long-chain n-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are probably partly responsible for these positive effects. Already the results of the evidence-based DGE guideline "Fat intake and prevention of selected diet-related diseases" illustrated that EPA and DHA reduce blood triglyceride concentrations with convincing evidence and the risk for coronary heart disease with probable evidence. However, the beneficial effect on blood triglyceride concentrations was only observed at intakes of n-3 fatty acids that are not achievable with food. With its current technical information "Fish consumption and prevention of selected diet-related diseases", the DGE shows the direct connection between a food and the risk-reducing effect on diet-related diseases.
Not all fish is the same: choose fatty fish as well
Fish species such as cod, pollock, hake, plaice or redfish are among the low-fat fishes. They provide between 280 mg and 840 mg EPA and DHA per 100 g fish. Salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in long-chain n-3 fatty acids. 100 g of herring provides almost 3,000 mg of EPA and DHA. Freshwater fish such as trout or carp have comparable levels of n-3 fatty acids to low-fat saltwater fish. Tuna is also a good source of long-chain n-3 fatty acids. However, like swordfish, cod, whitefish, pike or hake, it can be contaminated with (methyl) mercury. The health benefits of eating one to two portions of fish per week outweigh the negative effects of possible exposure to mercury and other harmful substances. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should limit their consumption of these types of fish.
Fish once or twice a week
Based on current data, 250 mg EPA and DHA per day is sufficient to prevent coronary heart disease deaths. This amount can be covered by one to two fish meals per week, depending on the type of fish chosen, according to the DGE. Whether low-fat or high-fat, fish provides valuable, easily digestible protein, selenium and vitamin D in addition to the nutritionally important n-3 fatty acids. Sea fish are an important source of iodine.
Also in terms of sustainability, one to two servings per week is acceptable. These can be z. B. be divided into one portion of high-fat (70 g) and one portion of low-fat (150 g) fish. Germans, however, eat less. Mean consumption of fish, fish products and crustaceans (excluding fish/crustacean-based dishes) is 105 g per week for men and 91 g per week for women, according to the National Consumption Survey II. 16% do not eat fish at all.
Sustainable fish – the way to go!
More and more fish stocks are affected by overfishing. The DGE advises to pay attention to a recognized sustainable origin when buying fish. Conscious selection can support a stock-conserving and environmentally friendly fishery. Seals of the various organizations and associations, such as the MSC seal, offer help when purchasing fish.
Long-chain n-3 fatty acids make fish special
n-3 fatty acids are also found in nuts and oilseeds, as well as oils made from them, such as walnut oil, rapeseed oil, or linseed oil; however, not the long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA. These are primarily found in fatty sea fish. Long-chain n-3 fatty acids in particular also play an important role in brain growth and development. They influence the flow properties of the blood and thus prevent deposits in the blood vessels. They also form important structural lipids in the body and influence muscle function as well as inflammatory and immune responses.
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