Runner's recipes with Sarah

Food of the month: Fish

by Sarah O'Neill, Nutritionist and Personal Trainer

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We all know that fish is good for us, but it can never hurt to remind ourselves why. Fish is an excellent high protein, low fat meat, which contains EFAs (essential fatty acids), namely omega 3.

To recap - the balance of omega 6 (n6) and omega 3 (n3) is crucial to the optimal functioning of the body, as omega 6s tend to be pro-inflammatory and pro-thrombotic (useful in immune responses), whilst omega 3s are anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic. The EFAs should ideally be eaten in the ratio 2:1 (n6:n3) to correctly balance these effects, however the Western diet can be nearer 20:1 (our tendency to pick the burger rather than the trout).

A world view...

Communities eating the highest amounts of omega 3 seem to be those who enjoy longer life, better health and the lowest levels of depression. In Japan, where around 3 oz fish is eaten a day, heart disease is at some of the lowest rates globally. Omega 3 also increases brain serotonin and so has also proven beneficial in boosting mood and cognitive function.

Recovery fuel

As a runner the anti-inflammatory properties of fish are especially compelling. Exercise related tissue damage and inflammation is a by-product of a high weekly mileage, and so whilst it may be tempting to pack in the calories from unhealthy fare (because you can) it's worth upping your intake of anti-inflammatory foods to fuel your recovery and serve as your nutritional ibuprofen!

Fishy facts

For interest, oily fish are termed such because the oil is distributed throughout the fish, whilst the oil white fish is concentrated primarily in the liver. Oily fish contain higher levels of omega 3, and varieties include mackerel, tuna, herring, anchovy, salmon and trout. This month's recipes contain an oily fish - trout, and a fish stew which requires white fish fillets, but you can very much freestyle your fish choice for each according to preference.

If you're a veggie then you can up your omega 3s with flax and linseed oil, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and butternuts. You can also buy fish oil capsules if you’re concerned about your daily intake, but it’s far better to boost your diet than your supplement use. 

Find out more about Sarah here. 

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