Fish has been getting a lot of publicity lately due to research indicating that it is good for the heart. The research suggests that eating two servings of fatty fish a week could reduce the risk of dying of a heart attack. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines contain a form of unsaturated fat known as omega-3 fatty acid. Fish is good for the heart because omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, which can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease. Another benefit of fish oil is that it not only reduces the inflammation that damages blood vessels, but also reduces inflammation all over the body, including muscles.
Athletes put a great amount of stress on their bodies. This stress can lead to inflammation of skeletal muscles and other tissues. After an intense workout, the muscles need to recover and repair. Consider having a meal containing fish as part of your recovery plan so the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish can act as a natural anti-inflammatory and aid in muscle recovery and repair.
Fish oils may also be immune enhancing. Many athletes who train long hours or at a high intensity have a temporary decline in immune function. Studies have reported that various immune cell functions are temporarily impaired following acute bouts of prolonged and continuous heavy exercise. There are studies that indicate that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the immune system. This could also be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids.
Many people take fish oil supplements to get the omega-3 fatty acids, but they are missing other vital nutrients that fish can provide. Fish is an excellent source of protein and nutrients such as vitamin B-12 and iron. Eating fish is a great way to get protein in the diet for muscle recovery. Substituting fish for meat is a healthy way to get the protein without the saturated fat.
Fish can be easy to prepare and delicious. I have included two recipes. The maple-mustard salmon is delicious and even the fussiest fish eater will love this dish. Sardines are another great source of omega-3 fatty acids but many people have never tried sardines or have had a bad experience with them. This recipe uses sardines as part of a pasta dish. The sardines are in the sauce and add a delicious taste to this pasta dish. This dish is a tasty way to get both healthy carbohydrates and fish oil for a good pre- or post- workout meal.
Try these tasty (and easy) fish recipes
Maple-Mustard Salmon (3-4 4-ounce servings)
¼ cup spicy mustard such as Gray Poupon
2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 lb fresh Atlantic salmon filet
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put a layer of aluminum foil on a baking dish and place the salmon filet on top. Mix the spicy mustard and syrup in a bowl then spread the mixture on top of the salmon. Place salmon in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
Pasta with Sardines (and vegetables): Pasta con le sarde (serves 4)
8 ounces whole-wheat fettuccine
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 cups raw spinach
1 red bell pepper diced
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
2 3- ounce cans boneless, skinless sardines in tomato sauce
½ cup chopped, fresh parsley
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese.
Cook pasta until al dente
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until sizzling, add red pepper, and cook until tender, add spinach and cook for 1 minute longer. Transfer garlic, spinach mixture to a large bowl.
Heat the remaining two tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, then add breadcrumbs and cook until golden brown. Transfer to plate.
Whisk the lemon juice, pepper and salt into the garlic and spinach. Add the pasta to the bowl along with sardines, parsley, and parmesan. Gently stir to combine. Serve sprinkled with breadcrumbs.