Hot off the press the national diet and nutrition survey has new results. I know this is exciting folks and you’ll be gutted that you haven’t got time to read the whole thing so thought I’d share the highlights in bite sized chunks to inspire your next food shop.
This week I can reveal oily fish intakes are still below what they should be. 11 to 18- year olds seem to be eating a little more of it, so we’ve probably got some youtuber to thank for that one but us adults are still not embracing our fishy tendencies.
We should ideally be eating 2 portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily and around 140g. We can eat up to 4 portions a week if we feel so inclined unless we’re pregnant in which case we should limit it to 2. Oily fish provides us with long chain fatty acids known as EPA and DPA.
Studies show that people who eat the most fish are 17% less likely to become depressed than those that ate the least. 40% of our brain cell walls are made up of these long chain omega-3 fatty acids and this facilitates brain cells to communicate effectively with each other. Good omega-3 intakes are associated with slower rates of mental decline and whilst you may not notice the effects Monday to Friday, as the decades roll by, it can make a difference. They also protect our heart and blood vessels and support a baby’s brain development in pregnancy.
Top picks would be salmon, trout, mackerel, herring, pilchards, sardines, sprats, fresh crab, kippers, whitebait and swordfish – there are some restrictions on how much swordfish we should eat, but in my 20- year career I have never met anyone in danger of over dosing on swordfish.
You will also read that we can get these omega-3’s from plant sources such as linseeds, rapeseed oil, walnuts and hazelnuts. These foods contain shorter chain fatty acids known as ALA. If you read the small print though you’ll see the body is not very apt at converting ALA to EPA and DPA so marine sources remain key.
Supplements based on micro-algae are out there for vegetarians and vegans but when it comes to omega-3 supplements generally, the benefits seem to come from actual fish consumption and the matrix of other nutrients sitting alongside the omega-3 oils that potentially add benefit for example calcium, selenium, iodine and vitamins A and D.
Making it happen
Lunch time is an ideal time to do this as tinned varieties count towards your quota and require no prep. Why not try a tin of salmon or mackerel with a pouch of mixed rice and quinoa, Puy lentils or a wholemeal pitta with a smidge of reduced fat mayonnaise or vinaigrette with some left- over roasted veggies or a couple of handfuls of salady stuff? Tuna doesn’t count anymore unfortunately in any form, but crab does if it’s fresh so head down to the beach this Easter. Love this website too for some fab tinned inspiration.
Whilst we can be totally irresponsible in the office in the name of workplace health and wellness, we need to be responsible to the fish, so choose products that have the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification.
Boost your brain, crack open the fish and start a new trend in the office!