Healthy eating and practicing proper nutrition are important at any age, but it becomes more so as we get older. As we age, our bodies don’t always absorb nutrients as well as they once did. Therefore, it’s important to pay special attention to what we eat and prioritize nutrient-dense foods. While lean meats are great sources of protein, which help our bodies function properly, chicken and fish have less saturated fat than most red meat. Fish is an important part of a heart-healthy diet and can help reduce the risk of heart failure, coronary heart disease, cardiac arrest, and the most common type of stroke.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least eight ounces of seafood per week. Fish contain high amounts of protein, healthy omega-3 fats, vitamins B-12 and D, and minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc, and iodine. Experts also agree that consuming fish can promote heart and brain health.
Fish Help You Have a Healthy Heart
Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that act as an energy source and help keep the lungs, blood vessels, and immune system functioning properly. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish but are especially high in salmon, trout, sardines, herring, mackerel, tuna, and oysters. These omega-3 fatty acids aid in healthy brain function, reduce inflammation and arthritis, and can even reduce the risk of depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, and diabetes. Some research also suggests that omega-3s have a positive effect on gradual memory loss commonly associated with aging.
Health Benefits of Eating Fish
In addition to protecting the heart and brain, eating fish regularly has been linked to other health benefits. Fish can impact many functions of the body, including your liver, quality of sleep, and weight management. Some of the main benefits of eating fish include:
Lowers risk of heart disease
According to some studies, consuming fish has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids work to prevent inflammation, which helps protect the heart and decrease the risk of other chronic diseases.
Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Fish consumption can increase gray brain matter, which prevents brain deterioration and shrinkage, both of which can cause a decline in brain function. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that people who ate baked or broiled fish once per week had a lower risk of developing either Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment.
Lowers symptoms of depression
Researchers believe that omega-3 fatty acids are linked to the functioning of serotonin in the brain, which plays an important role in mood regulation. Wild-caught fish such as salmon and sardines are believed to help fight depression and manage its symptoms.
Improves vision and eye health
Both the eyes and brain rely on heavy amounts of omega-3 fatty acids to maintain their health and function. Consuming fish, which is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, can help improve vision and maintain eye health.
Improves quality of sleep
Research suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids consistently can have a positive impact on sleep quality. Regularly consuming fish can help you fall asleep more quickly and improve your overall function during waking hours. According to Psychology Today, DHA, a type of omega-3 fat, stimulates melatonin, which is a key hormone that facilitates sleep.
Many older adults suffer from arthritis or the swelling and inflammation of one or more of their joints. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body and can help lessen the symptoms of various types of arthritis.
Lowers blood pressure
According to the Mayo Clinic, inflammation in the body can damage blood vessels, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 fatty acids can help benefit heart health by decreasing triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of blood clotting, and reducing irregular heartbeats. Researchers suggest consuming two servings per week of fish to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Best Types of Fish to Eat
According to Healthline Magazine, some fish contain contaminants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, which can negatively impact our health. However, the following fish are eco-friendly and have lower rates of mercury and contaminants:
Alaskan salmon. Both farmed and wild salmon contain omega-3s, vitamins, and minerals. While there’s a debate over which one is better, both can provide the same health benefits.
Cod. This white fish option contains phosphorus, niacin, vitamin B-12, and nearly 20 grams of protein in a three-ounce portion.
Mackerel. This oily fish is packed with healthy fats which can improve endurance, aid in exercise recovery, and also improve skin health.
Sardines. Sardines are an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron. In addition, sardines are also packed with protein, which is essential for building healthy bones and maintaining muscle mass.
Tuna. Tuna is rich in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure. In addition, the omega-3s present in tuna can help the risk of stroke and heart attack, while also improving the immune system.
Chef Giovanni Dillard from Maplewood at Danbury shared a fish recipe that her residents love.
Pan-Seared Salmon with an Orange Ginger Glaze
Salt and Pepper to liking
1tsp Garlic powder
4 tsp Olive oil
1tsp chopped garlic
1 C Orange juice
- Drizzle with 2 tsp olive oil
- Rub salmon with spice mixture
- Take a frying pan on medium heat (let the pan get hot for about 3 minutes)
- Olive oil 2tsp in pan and sear salmon till golden
- Take salmon and place on cooking sheet and bake on 325 for about 10 minutes until internal temperature reaches 145
Orange ginger glaze
- In the same saucepan, take butter garlic, and ginger cook for about 1 minute until fragrant.
- Next, add flour and cook until light brown
- Add orange juice and cook until thick
Serve with mashed or roasted potatoes. I like serving with asparagus but any vegetable will do. This is a simple recipe that takes from start to finish about 20 minutes!!
Ways to Incorporate Fish into Your Diet
If you’re not used to consuming fish as a part of your regular diet, incorporating it into your weekly routine might seem daunting. However, there are a few quick and easy ways to add fish into your routine without having to spend much time preparing it.
Many dietitians suggest substituting tuna for chicken when preparing recipes such as chicken salad or chicken casseroles. Adding fish to your breakfast can be as simple as serving smoked salmon with your eggs or topping it on your favorite bagel. You might consider adding fish to your favorite pasta dishes, on your tacos, or adding it to a stir-fry or homemade sauce. Fish can also be a quick on-the-go snack. Tuna and salmon pouches can be eaten alone, on crackers and salads, or in a sandwich for a quick, protein-packed meal.
Cooking with Fish at Maplewood Senior Living
Maintaining a healthy diet is important no matter your age. However, at Maplewood Senior Living, we know how much diet can impact overall wellness for older adults. Our excellent culinary team uses the freshest ingredients and heart-healthy recipes when preparing meals and food options for our residents. To learn more about our offerings or to schedule a tour, please contact us.