Today is National Fish and Chip Day (#nationalfishandchipday)!
A great excuse to get stuck into a big plate of fish, chips, mushy peas and still feel that you are doing your brain good.
Is fish really good for your brain? If fish are so smart, they wouldn’t get caught so easily in the net then, would they?
Why do we think that eating fish will help us get better quality grey matter between our ears when most fish are, to put it mildly, stupid.*
After painstaking research performed over the course of many, many seconds of a quick morning coffee break** I have found some insights into the age old question of why fish are not so smart, but yet, will make us smart.
Turns out it has nothing to do with the fish at all. In fact, you don’t even need to eat fish to get the benefits. It is possible that this is all a conspiracy by Big Fish to get you to eat more of what they sell.
The key factor is Omega 3 fats. So yes. You read it right. The fish get fat, and we get smart – or something like that. My coffee was getting cold so I had to stop the research at that time.
There are three types of omega-3 fat. EPA and DHA which are found mainly in fish, and ALA which you can get in certain plants like linseed. DHA makes up a large portion of the fats already contained in your brain.
While there have been a lot of studies done into the role of DHA and EPA into the brain benefits, there are more ongoing, and more areas to explore. Overall, the trends shows positive correlations between eating fish and brain function and development. Omega 3 fats are now routinely added to some baby formulas to help infants early development.
The most exciting research however is into how Omega 3 fats can help those with dementia, anxiety, ADHD and depression. However, before you rush off to ask your fishmonger to feed you seal-like from the counter, just be aware that although there are trends, and positive outcomes in studies, it doesn’t mean eating more fish will eliminate your anxiety disorder, or make depression disappear. A lot of studies can show positive results and outcomes, and it is important to always look at the bigger picture, than cherry pick tidbits of research that suit your mood. But, this is a good area to keep an eye on for the future if it is of interest or concern to you.
Overall, eating fish does have many positive benefits. One of the longest ever natural studies is in areas dubbed the Blue Zones. In these parts of the globe, people naturally live longer, and are healthier than in the rest of the world. These are parts of the mediterranean, Japan, Mexico, where the diet consists largely of vegetables, and oily fish. So, there is a lot of visual and historical data to support eating fish to help not only your brain, but your whole self. The batter on your chip-shop fish however, is not part of the healthy option unfortunately.
Which leads nicely to more bad news for National Fish and Chip Day. So far, I have really only spoken about our friends, the fish. But today is #nationalfishandchipday so what about the rest of the triumvirate, peas and chips? Well, chips, no matter how you cut it (seewhatIdidthere?) are not the most healthy of items, due mainly to the way they are prepared. Potatoes are good for you in moderation, like most things, however eating them in their most healthy form (steamed or microwaved in their jackets) is not always the most tasty option. Even prepared by this method, you need to add taste, usually in the form of toppings.
Peas, is good news however. One of the superfoods (another marketing gimmick which mixes science with branding) peas have a lot going for them. However, again, steamed or microwaved with a little water is best. Once you add butter or salt to taste, things go downhill a little.
To summarise, battered fish = bad, fish itself = good, chips = bad, potatoes = good, peas = good. Therefore, for today to celebrate National Fish and Chip day, I suggest you forego the fish and chips from your chipper, and go out and have a nice big portion of mushy peas.
*Except sharks. Sharks are smart. Very smart. If you don’t believe me just go nose to nose with a Great White and tell him he is stupid and see what happens.
**This counts as actual research if you are trying to persuade people of the dangers of vaccines, chemtrails or sell your uber-organic stuff. Good enough for them, good enough for me.
For more intelligible or dare I say it, intelligent discussion of the merits of fish and Omega 3, check out some of these sources below.
The yummy recipe used in the picture is from Positive Health Wellness – there are lots more like that here.