Before you throw up your hands and stop reading this, I am not going to tell you to stop eating fried fish! Hey, I live in Seattle, we are all about fish here. And yes, we have some of the best Fish & Chips you’ll find anywhere! My topic is not about fried fish being “bad” for you … it is about the good brain effect that occurs when we choose to eat baked or broiled fish… even just once a week.
Fresh off the press, in this month’s issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine is a study published by researchers at the U. of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. This study looked at the effect of regular fish consumption and the health of the brain over a 10 year period. They found that eating one serving of baked or broiled fish once a week resulted in greater “grey matter” in the brain, especially in the areas responsible for memory and understanding. You’ve heard of the grey matter before. It makes up most of the brain’s volume and serves to process information coming into the brain. 260 adults were followed and brain scans were done to measure any differences. Blood tests were also done to measure the healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish …. There were no meaningful differences, so it was not the omega-3 influence. So, what is the explanation? The researchers don’t know for sure but the working theory is that the high heat used for frying may have affected the nutrient balance with destruction of some health promoting benefits.
If you are a fish lover, great! One serving of baked or broiled fish per week should be easy to accomplish and you’ll be doing your brain a favor. Oh, and back to the fried fish …. enjoy it on occasion … just remember that extra calories come along with the tasty treat! 6 ounces of a baked or broiled boneless cod fillet is about 210 calories, over 70 % of which is from protein. 6 ounces of batter fried cod fillet is about 300 calories with only 42% coming from protein (and 42% from fat – ugh!).
One last thing … we actually need to pay attention to the types of fish that we eat. Because of fish farming practices and pollution of the waterways, there are, sadly, some fish that should be avoided. Washington State’s List of Safe Fish contains those that are safe to eat 2-3 times a week, those safe to eat once a week and those to avoid altogether. This list is based on mercury content only … and that is definitely important … since mercury is toxic to the brain! It doesn’t make sense to eat baked or broiled fish once a week to support the grey matter in your brain if you are using fish that is high in mercury!! That’s a sad reality. Be aware and use good judgment!