5 REASONS TO EAT FISH IN WINTER

With our immune systems and mental health under attack more than at any other time of year, winter can be a long, hard slog. But if you eat enough of the right kinds of fish you can get through it unscathed.

The days are short and the weather is frequently so miserable that you have little choice but to remain indoors.

Surviving the season can be even harder for those who work in offices or other situations where the interior and exterior temperature and humidity vary hugely. Your immune system is often besieged at every turn by bugs and bacteria determined to suck every last drop of energy out of you.

With daily life either a full-on struggle or simply a pain in the neck, it’s no wonder most of us turn to food that takes the edge off our discomfort.

The problem is that such food rarely provides the nutrition we need most at this time of year, hence the almost inevitable weight gain and increased susceptibility to flu, colds and low mood.

Enter, then, a superfood that will give you a fighting chance of facing spring with your constitution intact and a greater feeling of wellbeing than if you had simply given in to your instincts and wolfed down plate after plate of stodge for months on end.

Whether in a comforting pie, a midweek tuna frittata or anything else that takes your fancy, fish and seafood are your friends at this time of year more than any other. Here are five reasons why.

1. Stay positive – eating fish protects your mental health

In the past decade or two seasonal affective disorder – or SAD – has blossomed from a theory into a reality acknowledged by doctors and psychologists. Decreased hours of daylight allied to the weakness of the sun mean most of us suffer from a deficiency of vitamin D, a major contributing factor to the low mood experienced by many people in northern Europe in winter.

While you can buy vitamin D in supplement form, your body absorbs far greater amounts of vitamin D when the source is fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel, all of which are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which not only boost cardiovascular health but are also proven to enhance emotional health.

2. Be strong – eating fish protects your heart

Heart disease is one of the biggest killers in the western world and winter puts extra pressure on your heart. By eating fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week you can offset decreased activity levels and the associated dangers to cardiovascular health such as increased blood pressure – a leading cause of heart attack and stroke – and furring of the arteries. Our top three recommendations are salmon, scallops and mackerel.

3. Beat colds and flu – eating fish protects your lungs

There’s no doubt that the lungs are one of the most vulnerable parts of the body in winter, being prone to colds, flu and other respiratory infections. Omega-3 fatty acids help increase the airflow to the lungs, so upping your intake of fish such as salmon and mackerel will help you fight off the bugs that are all too familiar to those who either have young children or work in air-conditioned offices – or, worse still, tick both boxes.

4. Look better – eating fish protects your skin

Cold weather plays havoc with your skin, whether directly or indirectly – for example, when you enter a warm supermarket or restaurant after walking through the streets on a cold night. Extremes of temperature are not conducive to healthy skin. That’s where smoked salmon can play a defensive role, as it’s rich in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are incorporated into the skin’s top layer to help build a barrier that prevents your skin drying out.

5. Feel younger – eating fish helps fight symptoms of arthritis

Arthritis affects many people more in winter than in warmer months, and anyone who experiences joint or muscle pain on a regular basis knows how debilitating it can be. Our old ally omega-3 fatty acids help combat such conditions by lowering inflammation and reducing arthritis symptoms. The more salmon, tuna, mackerel and other omega-3-rich fish you eat, the stronger your defence against joint pain and inflammation. 

Of course, eating fish is also a terrific way of upping your intake of minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium, niacin and selenium as well as vitamins A, B12 and D. And let’s not forget the high protein content of most fish.

Put simply, fish is your friend all year round, but especially so during winter. There’s no need to completely avoid your favourite comfort foods during the long, dark nights – who can resist a good stew or sticky toffee pudding? – but introducing more oily fish into your diet will help keep the worst effects of winter at bay.

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