Did you know that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating at least eight ounces of fish per week? Yet a recent survey found that most Americans only heed that advice about one-third of the time. Many of my clients tell me that fish perplexes them—they don’t know how to shop for or cook it, so they tend to omit it from their cooking. But with the abundance of health benefits, it’s time to give fish another try. And I have five strong reasons for why every athlete should eat more fish!
1. It’s Good For Your Heart
Fish is so good for your heart that the American Heart Association recommends piling it on your plate at least two times per week. Rich in lean protein, healthy fats, vitamin D and antioxidants, fish has the perfect combination of nutrients to protect your heart from harm. As a matter of fact, research has shown that the nutrients found in fish may decrease the risk of abnormal heartbeats, lower triglycerides and blood pressure and slow the growth of plaque.
2. It Protects Your Skin
As a triathlete, you probably spend more time outdoors than most people you know. In the warmer months, that means applying (and reapplying) sunscreen diligently. But here’s some good news—fish may help protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays. It’s not a substitute for sunscreen, but we’ll take any help we can get! Plus, other research suggests that eating fish might also help ward off the signs of skin aging.
3. It’s Delicious And Versatile
If you’re not a fish fan, I dare you to step out of your comfort zone and give it another try. When prepared correctly, fish can be a simple, delicious and versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into a spicy dish, a bright salad or a rich pasta bowl. Or, simply marinate it and cook in an oven, sautee pan or grill, and make it the star of the dinner plate. If you’re on a budget, frozen, or canned fish are also great options for simple meals that come together in minutes.
4. It May Boost Your Mental Game
All runners know that the mental game is just as important as the physical one. Fish has long been touted as a “brain boosting food,” and many studies show that eating it may actually protect your brain from age-related decline. As a matter of fact, some research shows that moderate fish consumption is related to less incidences of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, eating omega-3s may decrease your likelihood of developing depression. That, coupled with running, is sure to boost your mood!
5. It’s Perfect For Recovery
After a workout, your body needs a mixture of carbs, protein, and antioxidants. While fish is not a carb supplier, it’s chock-full of muscle-building protein and inflammation-fighting antioxidants. Fish is also one of the only good sources of vitamin D (besides the sun), which helps prevent deterioration of the bones and muscles. Do your achy knees a favor and add fish to your plate at least twice per week.