Eating More Seafood Can Lower Rates of Depression

 

The benefits of regularly including fish in your diet have long been touted time and again. Fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which support brain function, heart health and even lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Researchers are now studying the effects of diets high in omega-3s and their impact on depression. Researchers in China and Europe have found that eating fish on a consistent basis may reduce rates of depression. If you are at risk of developing depression, or are currently suffering from the disease, adding fish to your healthy diet may help reduce your risk, or may reduce your symptoms. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Affect the Brain

One of the primary benefits of Omega-3s is their effects on healthy brain activity. The National Institute of Health’s Medline Plus blog explores various studies touting the benefits of fish on mental health. It states, “The researchers pointed out that it’s possible that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish may change the structure of brain membranes, or these acids may alter the way certain neurotransmitters work. Neurotransmitters are the brain’s chemical messengers, sending information from brain cell to brain cell.” Neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine play a significant role in depression, which may explain how eating fish can affect the risk of developing the disease. 

Fish and Other Seafood Is Part of a Healthy Diet

A healthy diet coupled with a consistent exercise plan is one of the primary, non medical treatments for depression, anxiety and related illnesses. Eating a balanced diet can help calm blood sugar spikes and falls that can trigger mood swings and other depression symptoms. A HealthyWomen.org article titled, “Eating to Beat Stress and Depression,” states, “By selecting foods for meals and snacks that contain a balance of several beneficial nutritive elements, you can create …a ‘depression defense portfolio’ and strengthen your brain and body in ways that boost emotional health.” Fish and its associated health benefits are an essential part of many healthy diet plans for heart health, mental health and much more. 

Seafood Contains High Levels of DHA

Along with omega-3 fatty acids, fish and other seafood also contain DHA, a specific omega-3 fatty acid that is also a structural component of the human brain and other organs. According to AlaskaSeafood.org, “DHA is highly concentrated in the brain and retina where it participates in vision, communication between cells, nerve impulse transmission, and the protection of brain cells. Details of how these fatty acids affect mental function are beginning to emerge. In several mental disorders, these omega-3s are significantly below those observed in healthy people.” If you aren’t consuming foods high in DHA, you may be deficient, putting yourself at risk for developing depression. 

Eat the Right Types of Fish

Some seafood is higher in beneficial omega-3s than others, including herring, bluefin tuna and salmon. However, eating high amounts of seafood in general can increase your risk of mercury exposure. As an essential part of the diet, it is important to be strategic when incorporating seafood into your diet. The Natural Resources Defense Council states, “Adult men, and women who are not planning to become pregnant, are less at risk from mercury exposure but may wish to refer to the list for low-mercury choices.” The organization has a wealth of resources related to fish and mercury exposure on its website. Use them to determine how to safely incorporate more fish into your diet. 

Incorporating seafood into your diet is beneficial for a variety of reasons, one of which may be a reduced risk of depression. There are plenty of delicious fish recipes available, with everything from salmon fillets to fish tacos. Help reduce your risk of developing depression by incorporating seafood recipes into your weekly diet.