Healthy Food Guide Pan-fried salmon with chickpea salad
Updated: May 28, 2021
Tasty and nutritious, salmon is packed with heart healthy omega 3 fats, along with vitamin D - something we can all be a bit low on during the winter months.
Regular consumption of omega 3 fats, in the form of oily fish, is associated with a reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The marine-sourced omega 3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosapentaenoic acid) reduce triglyceride levels in the blood, decrease the likelihood of clot formation, and inhibit the production of a substance that encourages the aggregation of blood platelets after blood vessel injury. This effect is not seen in plant-sourced omega 3 fats, found in sources such as soybean oil, linseed oil and walnuts.
Furthermore, a recent review of the effectiveness of fish oil supplements on reducing cardiovascular disease risk, showed that extracting these beneficial oils from the whole food and taking them in pill form does not seem to confer the same health benefit.
"Previous experience has shown that although some types of diet are linked to lower risk of heart disease, when we try to identify the beneficial element of the diet and give it as a supplement it generally has little or no benefit".
Professor Tim Chico, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Honorary Consultant Cardiologist, University of Sheffield.
So, how much marine-sourced omega 3 is enough to reap these benefits? The Heart Foundation recommends the inclusion of 2-3 serves of fish per week (including oily fish like salmon), which would provide between 250 - 500mg of EPA and DHA per day. The great news is that tinned fish is also an excellent source of omega 3, so if you're not a fan of fresh salmon, or it's outside of your budget, keep an eye out for specials on tinned fish in your local supermarket and stock up. You can use your tinned fish in rolls, wraps or sandwiches packed with salad ingredients for tasty lunches; mixed into pasta or rice dishes; or spread on whole grain crackers with a little cream cheese or avocado and a sliced tomato.
Adequate omega 3 consumption may also affect mood, with several studies finding an inverse association between the intake of oily fish and the incidence of depression. A similar relationship has been found between vitamin D (aka "the sunshine vitamin") and depression. Oily fish is also a great way to get your vitamin D during winter, when the shortened sunshine hours and cool temperatures mean we spend more time inside and less time exposing our skin to the sun's rays to make out own vitamin D.
But back to the delicious photo, right? Some fresh salmon, pan-fried, with a winter-friendly chickpea salad, served with steamed green vegetables of your choice. Packed with fibre from the chickpeas and corn, this makes a great lunch too, if you have any leftovers!
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You will find even more recipes to boost your omega 3 intake.
Cuomo, A., Giordano, N., Goracci, A., Fagiolini, A. (2017). Depression and vitamin D deficiency: Causality, assessment, and clinical practice implications. Retrieved from http://www.jneuropsychiatry.org/peer-review/depression-and-vitamin-d-deficiency-causality-assessment-and-clinical-practice-implications-12051.html
Grosso, G., et. al. (2014). Omega-3 fatty acids and depression: Scientific evidence and biological mechanisms. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976923/pdf/OMCL2014-313570.pdf
Mann, J., & Truswell, A.S. (2012). Essentials of human nutrition (4th ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
National Heart Foundation of Australia. (2008). Fish, fish oils, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular health: Review of evidence. Retrieved from https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/main/For_professionals/Fish-FishOils-revie-of-evidence.pdf
National Heart Foundation of Australia. (2015). Sources of omega 3. Retrieved from https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/images/uploads/main/Programs/Sources_of_omega_3.pdf