New evidence suggests that eating cold-water fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids is effective in protecting brain health and improving cognitive performance in midlife.
According to the American Heart Association, people should consume at least two servings of cold-water fish per week.
Coldwater fish can only survive in water that is below 20 degrees Celsius (or 78 degrees Fahrenheit).
Unlike warm-water fish, they need more fat to maintain their body temperatures, and the healthy unsaturated fats under their skin act as antifreeze in the water.
Therefore, cold-water fish are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and the fat a fish contains is perfectly adequate for its survival. The colder the water, the better the fat should be.
How omega-3 fatty acids benefit
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Since our body cannot synthesize omega-3 fatty acids, the only way to maintain normal physiological functions is to supplement these oleic acids from external foods.
There are three main omega-3 fatty acids: linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found primarily in vegetable oils, such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil. Fish and other shellfish contain DHA and EPA.
What are the best fish to eat?
- Sardines – This thin, silvery minnow can be eaten fresh, dried, smoked, or cured. They contain 1,950 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per 3 ounces.
- Salmon: with small scales, few bones and red-orange meat, it is a tender, tasty fish and a sashimi classic. Wild salmon is even higher in omega-3 fatty acids, containing 1,060 mg in 3 ounces.
- Albacore Tuna: Tuna meat is purple-red in color, similar to beef. It is high in hemoglobin, low in fat and high in protein. Contains 900 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per 3 ounces of tuna.
- Mackerel – A type of cold-water fish that offers 20 grams of high-quality protein per 3-ounce serving, along with vitamin B-12, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
- Herring: Can be marinated in vinegar or served with a little cream and eggs, or made into a sandwich. It tastes delicious and contains about 2,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per 3 ounces.
If you don’t like eating fish, you can consult your doctor and ask for recommendations on fish oil supplements or other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids that you could make part of your daily life.