By Lisa Leath Turpin, BS. Fitness & Wellness Coach
In light of the Destin Fishing Rodeo season, here’s great news for our area about the health benefits of our Gulf fish! So, we’ve all read or heard that fish is healthy for you. But cold water fish such as salmon make the healthy headlines. It’s primarily because of their scientifically known Omega-3 fatty acid profile. But good news for us Gulf Coast residents… warm water fish in the Gulf of Mexico has high Omega-3s also.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are essential to good health. Essential means that our bodies don’t produce it so therefore, we must get it through our diet. They are essential for normal growth and development of every aspect of human health. These fatty acids are similar in structure, but their functions are very different.
Americans typically consume up to 20 times more Omega-6 then they do Omega-3. This causes an imbalance in our bodies which are linked to a long list of diseases including atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, colitis, Crohn’s disease, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, various cancers, Alzheimer’s, Lupus, allergies and multiple sclerosis. Medical research has found that a diet must include NO MORE than FOUR times as much Omega-6 as Omega-3 for optimal health.
Eating Gulf fish will help raise your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids to help with the balance between not only Omega-6, but also total fats in the body consumed by the average American. This is why it’s important to eat foods high in Omega-3.
Dr. Julia S. Lytle, Ph.D & Dr. Thomas F. Lytle, Professors Emeritus, Department of Coastal Sciences, states in a brochure; Marine fish oils are the primary source of Omega-3 fatty acids while the plant oils corn, soy, peanut, cotton, sunflower and safflower are the major sources of Omega-6. All marine fish, whether caught in warm water or cold water, contain Omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and young tunas are rich in Omega-3s, but they are also higher in total fats than leaner fish such as flounder, redfish, snapper and tilefish. Recent research indicates that most Gulf fish contain less than 5% total fat, and their fat is enriched in Omega-3s. Dr. Julia says, “Since warm water fish are lean, you can eat larger portions to increase your intake of Omega-3 and still keep total fat calories moderated.” I’d like to note though, be careful in its preparation if you are watching total fat calories. Fat is nine calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrates BOTH are four calories per gram. If you add creamy (fatty) rich sauces, extra oil, or breading while cooking, you could double the amount of calories for that portion of fish.
Achieving the right balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 helps with the following:
fight inflammation – reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes – boost immune system – reduce cancer risk – slow aging – reduce risk of macular degeneration – lower triglycerides
Make a healthy change by eating MORE: Gulf fish at least twice weekly, dark green leafy vegetables, add flaxseeds and walnuts to salads; LESS: processed foods, avoid deep-fried foods, REDUCE TOTAL FATS. Use olive and canola oils for salads and cooking.
This information came from a study done by the professors above through The University of Southern Mississippi, Dept. of Coastal Sciences. The basis for their conclusion was through analysis of almost 50 species of Gulf fishes. Regardless of season, age, size or sexual maturation, Gulf fish are valuable sources of Omega-3 and they have charted the fatty acid, cholesterol and total fat in 44 species. Visit usm.edu/gcrl/omega-3 to see the comprehensive list. To contact Lisa, email firstname.lastname@example.org