Tiny Fish, Big Benefits
SALINE SOLUTION Saltwater fish may be healthier for you than the freshwater kind. Canadian researchers analyzed the diets of people living in a lakeside fishing community and then measured their blood levels of two key omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which benefit your heart and brain. Surprisingly, they found that those who ate the most fish had similar levels of EPA and DHA to those who ate the least – a finding that’s contrary to study results from seaside locales. Why? Research indicates that your body could process EPA and DHA from freshwater fish differently than that from saltwater species. The seafood with the most omega-3 fats: mackerel and sardines. Sardines are also rich in calcium (in the bones) and a natural source of vitamin D. They’re a good ecological choice too, since sardine populations are abundant in most parts of the world – and contaminants are much less of a concern than with most other fatty fish. When buying canned sardines, compare nutrition labels. Depending on the type of sardine, where they come from, and what they are packed in (water, oil, or sauces), they can vary a lot in calories (90 to 275), fat (5 to 15 grams), and sodium (200 to 400 milligrams) per 85gram serving. If you’re concerned about bisphenol-A (BPA) leaching from the lining of cans, more companies are now using BPAfree cans – check the labels. BPA, used to prevent corrosion, affects hormone function and has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other adverse effects. You can also get fresh sardines in many fish markets.