I love making healthy resolutions at the start of each month. None with as much enthusiasm as 1st January. As with most people’s New Year’s resolutions, the odds aren’t in my favour when it comes to sticking to them. Luckily for me my birthday is at the end of January, and I use that as a chance to re-launch any failed goals.
Despite being a far from perfect role model, I persuaded a friend of mine to make a resolution this year. He decided his top priority is to “eat more fish” – this is excellent, I thought to myself, as being a nutritionist it’s one of the key things I try and get my clients to do. I dug a little deeper though and it turns out “eat more fish” translates into “at some point over the next few weeks I might buy some fish fingers”.
I don’t want to squish his determination to improve his health, but here’s a little tip for everyone – if you really want to make healthy changes, the fish to go for are the oily fish: salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies and fresh tuna. They are best eaten in a form that at least remotely resembles their original state. Go for wild caught if possible, such as wild caught Alaskan salmon. Make sure you look for the blue MSC label as well, as this ensures they are from certified sustainable fishery.
There is always something on TV about the benefits of oily fish – and it’s true, they really are that good for you. Oily fish contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for our hearts, our brains and lowering inflammation (for more detailed information you can have a read of a previous blog on healthy fats). They also contain good levels of vitamin D, which many people are low on in the UK due to our less than tropical weather. In fact, it seems that for 7 months of the year in the UK, the sun’s rays are too weak to allow optimum vitamin D production.
Most people know that vitamin D is good for our bones, but what’s less widely known is just how vital it is for our immune health, and studies are now showing vitamin D levels influence our risk of numerous modern-day health problems, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more. So if you are a resolution fan, then “eat more fish” might be the one for you.
I might add here that I personally cannot stand fish – I was forced to eat fish pie by my grandmother when I was only about 5, which I promptly threw up. For the next decade or so I told people I was allergic to fish just to avoid a repeat episode. But since then, even though I know how good it is for me, I just can’t do it. So I take fish oil capsules a couple of times a week, which is something other non fish eaters can do. Just make sure you go for a decent brand (i.e. not the cheap ones), and that they are not cod liver oil capsules, which you take for different reasons. You can get the bottles of liquid omegas too. They are cheaper, but frankly for anyone who doesn’t like fish, the whole experience can become rather traumatic. I do have to add that if anyone is taking medication then you need to check with your doctor first, as taking too many fish oils can be contraindicated with certain medications, such as blood thinners. But if you like fish then the best option by far is to go to your nearest fishmongers and enjoy! Ok, maybe a supermarket is more realistic for most 🙂