Few of us have the luxury of a beach vacation, but we may benefit from delicious treasures of the sea that are rich in minerals that support a weak body and soothe a weary mind.
Fish and Your Heart
A growing body of literature supports a protective role of fish intake and of essential dietary long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in cardiovascular disease. These healthy oils reduce of the risk of sudden cardiac death. There are several potential mechanisms at work for this protection including, positive effects on heart rhythm, decreased heart rate variability and resting blood pressure, decreased serum LDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations and increased insulin sensitivity. Other plausible factors are fish’s anti-inflammatory effects and benefits for the brain.
N-3 Dietary Fats for Weight Loss
Diet also affects our mood. A 2014 Study: reports that high fat, low carbohydrate diets have become popular, as short-term studies show that such diets are effective for reducing body weight, and lowering the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. There is growing evidence from both human and animal studies that intake of fat has been linked, positively and negatively, with traits such as social interaction, anxiety and fear.
High Fats, Low Carbs vs. Aggression
Our brain is mostly cholesterol. Lacking it, we become aggressive. Animal models . . .fed a high fat/cholesterol, low carbohydrate diet were less aggressive, showed more non-agonistic social contact and had fewer and less severe skin lesions and were less fearful than those fed low fat, high carbohydrate diets. These results “show the potential for using dietary manipulations to reduce aggression in human society.”
N-3 Polyunsaturated Fat for reduced hostility
A high intake of n-3 polyunsaturated fat has been associated with less hostility in humans. Sources include:
- Oils: flax seed, soybean, walnut
Fish and Fats for Longevity
People living in the “blue zones,” who live beyond age 100, eat small servings of fish up to three times per week. They are typically middle-of-the-food-chain species that are not exposed to high levels of mercury or other harmful chemicals.
Various animal studies have shown that specific types of dietary fats affect aggressive behavior. Hostility has been shown to predict both the development and manifestation of coronary disease. This 2003 study concludes: “These results suggest that high dietary intake of DHA and consumption of fish rich in n-3 fatty acids may be related to lower likelihood of high hostility in young adulthood.”
Shellfish, which include mussels, clams, and oysters, are high in amino acids like taurine, which has been studied for its potential mood-boosting properties. Taurine and other amino acids are needed to produce neurotransmitters like dopamine, which are essential for regulating stress response. In fact, taurine may have antidepressant effects.
Vitamins in Shellfish
Shellfish are also loaded with vitamin B12, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium, all of which may help boost mood. A study in 2,089 Japanese adults associated low intakes of zinc, copper, and manganese with depression and anxiety symptoms.
Omega-3 oils are incredibly rich in fatty fish:
They contain vitamin D and nutrients that have been shown to help reduce stress levels and improve mood.
Omega-3 and Stress
Omega-3s are not only essential for brain health and mood but may also help our body to handle stress. In fact, low omega-3 intake is linked to increased anxiety and depression in Western populations, Vitamin D also plays critical roles in mental health and stress regulation. Low levels are associated with an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
Omega-3 and Supplements
For added protection, you might take a fish oil capsule with a dose of vitamin D3 when eating fish. The fatty fish will improve vitamin absorption. Fatty fish like salmon and albacore tuna are rich in two types of omega-3s — docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) — that are linked to lower levels of depression and contribute to the fluidity of your brain’s cell membrane and appear to play key roles in brain development and cell signaling. That will influence memory.
Although there’s no standard dose, most experts agree that most adults should get at least 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day. Eating fish a few times per week is a great way to get these fats into your diet
Steamed Fish Recipe
Keep your fish juicy and delicious with this simple recipe designed to be heart-healthy. The ingredients reduce cholesterol and bring out the natural flavors with a light seasoning and no added oil or salt.
Steamed Salmon Steak
- 1 salmon steak
- 2 tablespoons sliced red onion
- 2-3 tablespoons diced red bell pepper
- 1/3 cup pineapple juice
- seasonings such as fresh herbs, ½ clove garlic
Layer the sliced vegetable ingredients into a shallow pot or fish pan, put the fish on top and add ½ inch of the pineapple juice. If you want to cut the sugar content, use ½ water, ½ juice. Bring the pot to a gentle simmer and immediately turn it off, remove from the heat and cover it to steam the fish for 5-10 minutes. The salmon will be pink, moist and tasty.
Eggs: Complete Nutrition
Eggs are often referred to as nature’s multi-vitamin because of their impressive nutrient profile. Whole eggs are packed with vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants needed for a healthy stress response. Whole eggs are particularly rich in choline, a nutrient found in large amounts in only a few foods.
Choline and Brain Stress
Choline has been shown to play an important role in brain health and may protect against stress. In the brain, choline speeds up the creation and release of acetylcholine, a protein that carries signals among brain cells and is important for memory and assorted other brain functions. Popular over-the-counter painkillers over time harm choline uptake and therefore, affect brain circulation to, in effect, reduce memory.
These Vegetarian Fats are Fine
Use nut and seed butter as a topping. Although they don’t melt like butter, they are quite nutritious without adding harmful fat or milk protein a common source of dairy allergies.
Tahini is Sesame
This favorite rich spread is made from sesame seeds, and gives a rich taste to humus. Sesame seeds are an excellent source of nerve-soothing calcium and the amino acid L-tryptophan. L-tryptophan is a precursor of the mood-regulating neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Following a diet high in tryptophan may help boost mood and ease symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Sunflower Seed Butter
Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E. This fat-soluble vitamin acts as a powerful antioxidant and is essential for mental health.
A low intake of this nutrient is associated with altered mood and depression. Sunflower seeds are also high in other stress-reducing nutrients, including magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, B vitamins, and copper.
Oils and Fats Used in Cooking
Are you confused about cooking oils? Monounsaturated, saturated, polyunsaturated oils, what do they mean? Please see a previous blog: “How Fat is Fat?” For more heart healthy foods, see Heart to Heart: Care for your heart naturally
To become an expert in “The Longevity Diet,” join our professional chef/healer/lifestyle experts at the Academy of Healing Nutrition, New York, London and benefit yourself and community.