Guest post by Alyssa Clarke.
Cholesterol is a component required by the body to ensure smooth functioning of the cell. However, when the levels of cholesterol in the body increase beyond the normal levels, it causes various problems and hinders proper bodily functions. It is hence important that the levels of cholesterol are kept in check. Fish, especially the fatty variety of fishes are known to reduce cholesterol levels.
The term ‘fatty’ fishes may sound contradictory to the common belief that fat translates into cholesterol. This, however, is not true. There are two types of fats which are good fats or the unsaturated fats except trans fats and bad fats or the saturated fats. The fat contained in fatty or oily fishes are the good fats which increase the HDL or the High-density lipoproteins in the body. This in contradiction to the popular belief helps fight cholesterol, instead of adding to its stores. Unlike meat which harms the body with its saturated fats that not just take longer to digest but also reduces the HDL levels in the body. Consumption of fishes also helps the body meet its daily requirement for protein.
After extensive research, it has been concluded by The British Heart foundation that dietary consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is good for the health of the heart. Researchers have also found that the consumption of omega-3 rich food products reduces the rate at which blood clots by preventing the platelets to clump together or stick to the artery walls, thus preventing the constriction of the arterial walls and reducing the chances of life-threatening incidences such as cardiac arrest. According to a review of all the research done on omega-3 fatty acids, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1997, daily consumption of oily fish brings about twenty-five to thirty percent reduction in the triglyceride or LDL (Low-density lipoproteins) in the body.
The richest known source of omega-3 fatty acids are oily or fatty fishes. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in abundant quantities in oily fishes such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, trouts, halibut etc. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish per week for healthy individuals and an added amount for individuals suffering from cardiac diseases. However, the method employed to cook the fish should also be taken into consideration. Deep frying the fish in oil or butter will be harmful instead of being beneficial to the individual’s health. It is recommended that the fish is either poached or grilled in minimum oil, if any. The fish should not be over or under cooked as it can destroy the vital nutrients derived from fish.
Omega-3 fatty acids can be termed to be the most beneficial nutrients when it comes to preventing cardiac diseases or keeping it within check. Those with high cholesterol levels can benefit from having two servings of poached or grilled fatty fish per week. It is hence necessary to plan the diet well in advance which would include the fatty fishes as a major component.
As mentioned in Diyhealth, The American Heart Association suggests minimum 2-3 servings of fish per week a must for people to combat high cholesterol levels risks. Pregnant women and children should, however, exercise a little caution regarding the amount of fatty fish consumption as some of these fishes contain high levels of mercury that can harm the developing fetus or arrest the growth of the brain in children. In such a case, alternative sources of omega-3 rich food can be opted for or fishes containing low levels of mercury pollutants can be consumed.
About the author: Alyssa Clarke is a freelance blogger who is passionate about writing. She frequently writes on health, fitness and environment related topics. Her favorite sites are Diyhealth and Ecofriend, which she also happens to work for. She is a social media addict and can be actively found on twitter @alyssagclarke.