Correct and rational nutrition is one of the most important environmental factors that significantly affect the development of our organism and the maintenance of good health.
We continue to see growing consumer awareness of good nutrition. Eating fish and fish products is part of this trend. The micro- and macronutrients contained in fish meat are credited with helping to prevent and even cure certain diseases, as well as maintaining good physical and mental health.
The composition of fish meat is similar to that of slaughter animals and poultry. However, fish contains much more water and much less connective tissue protein. Fish meat, with the exception of very fatty ones, has a lower energy value. The low collagen content and trace amounts of elastin make it easily digestible (for fish protein, the digestibility is up to 97%) and quicker to prepare.
Fish has a special, unique fatty acid composition. Unlike meat from slaughter animals, they contain small amounts of saturated fatty acids. At the same time they are rich in EFAs - essential unsaturated fatty acids. This is important because our body can not synthesize them on its own (or synthesis proceeds very slowly), and we constantly need them to function properly. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are divided into two groups: omega-3 and omega-6. They play an important role in the development and proper functioning of the body.
The first group of omega-3s includes those present in fish: EPA, DHA and DPA. Eicosapentaenoic acid, as a component of cell membrane phospholipids, is a material for the synthesis of eicosanoids, which take part in intercellular signalling, performing regulatory roles. Many physiological functions of omega-3 fatty acids are due to the fact that they can be transformed into biologically active compounds with the properties of tissue hormones.
Omeega-3 fatty acids affect, among other things, the functioning of the cardiovascular system, blood pressure, formation of blood clots inside blood vessels, blood fat levels, cell proliferation, hormone and neurotransmitter activity. At the same time, eicosanoids formed from omega-6 acids can often have the opposite effect. Therefore, the quantitative ratio of consumed omega-3 to omega-6 acids (these are present in margarines and vegetable oils) is extremely important. Linoleic acid (omega-6) and α-linolenic acid (omega-3) compete with each other for metabolic conversion. Therefore, an improper quantitative ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 acids consumed may reduce the beneficial effects of omega-3 acids. Therefore, it is important to supplement the diet with fish products rich in omega-3 acids, in order to maintain their ratio in the daily ration at the level of 4-5:1 (omega-6 to omega-3). Interesting fact: in primitive people, this ratio was 1:1, and now it is 10:1.
Omeega-3 fatty acids inhibit the development of some cancers and type II diabetes, reduce inflammatory and allergic reactions, regulate the functioning of the central nervous system and prevent premature birth. It has also been proven that DHA has an antidepressant effect by regulating serotonin levels in the brain. They can also counteract autoimmune diseases such as rheumatism, arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This is due, among other things, to squalene (an unsaturated aliphatic hydrocarbon), which facilitates the production of antibodies, increases intracellular oxygenation, moreover, improves the transfer of information between cells, as well as improving skin elasticity.
In fish meat, taurine, an amino acid, is quite often present. In white muscles it is present in the amount of several dozen milligrams per 100 g, and in red muscles, heart and liver even up to 1000 mg per 100 g. It favourably influences the functioning of the sight organ, central nervous system, heart, skeletal muscles, regulation of intracellular osmotic pressure and bile formation. In addition, it improves the nitrogen balance of the body, reduces blood sugar levels, allows for longer exercise without fatigue by limiting the production of serotonin, helps build muscles, regulates cholesterol levels in the blood, improves the transport of creatine, and,& nbsp; acting similarly to insulin, it is able to transport and support the assimilation of nutrients.
The vitamin content of fish meat is equally important. These biocatalysts regulate the metabolism and function of many organs, tissues and cells in the body. Fish fat is particularly rich in vitamins. The vitamin A it contains has antioxidant properties, and the need for it increases with age, with intense physical effort or stress. Fish fats are also rich in vitamin D, which facilitates the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and thus the correct formation of bones and teeth, while also enabling the absorption of vitamin A.
Meat of lean fish is a valuable source of B vitamins. They are important for us because they are part of enzymes that metabolise carbohydrates, improve mental capacity, enhance mood, and promote growth (thiamine). Riboflavin is a component of coenzymes involved in the processing of glucose, fats and amino acids. Vitamin B6 influences the metabolism of proteins, amino acids, cholesterol, polyunsaturated fatty acids and steroid hormones. In turn, vitamin B12 catalyses the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids, as well as maintaining the efficiency of the nervous system and improving memory. Additionally, it is a coenzyme in the synthesis of methionine, choline, DNA and takes part in the production of erythrocytes. Niacin has a positive effect on the functioning of the nervous system, synthesis of sex hormones, insulin and lowering blood pressure.
Fish meat contains many minerals essential for proper functioning. Calcium is the basic building material of bones and has a positive effect on the functioning of the heart and the peripheral nervous system. Together with phosphorus, fluorine and manganese it may inhibit the development of osteoporosis. Selenium regulates glutathione and protein synthesis. Iodine, as a component of thyroid hormones, regulates energy metabolism. Manganese has a positive effect on mood and memory, as a component of brain tissue. Cobalt is present along with vitamin B, which facilitates its absorption. Its presence is essential for the production of erythrocytes and haemoglobin.
Fish meat has unique nutritional qualities; besides the high nutritional value of proteins, the richness of fat-soluble vitamins (especially D and A) and rare microelements (iodine, selenium) deserve special emphasis. Many people do not eat fish, claiming that they do not like the taste. This means that they have never eaten freshly caught, properly stored and well prepared fish. There are so many species of fish and so many ways to prepare them that everyone will find a taste and form they like. It is worth trying!