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We Need to Eat Fish

By Mikee Gan

Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed more and more people fishing off of our Boracay shores. I think some of them used it simply as an excuse to get into the water - but the need to eat for many drove people back to the sea. Not having enough money to purchase goods was something that many of us suffered from.

But fish is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. That’s because it’s a great source of protein, micronutrients, and healthy fats. Fish is a low-fat quality protein, is filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). And is rich in calcium and phosphorus and is also a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy human development. Our bodies don’t produce omega-3 fatty acids so we must get them through the food we eat. Fish with medium to high levels of omega-3 fatty acids include oily ocean fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines.

Findings from 30 large studies conducted around the world show that people who consume just one or two servings of fish per week lower their risk of a fatal heart attack by an average of 36 percent. If you have already experienced a heart attack, shifting to a high-fish diet can cut your chances of future deadly attacks by one third.

Health experts say omega-3 fatty acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat that the body derives from food. Omega-3s (and omega-6s) are known as essential fatty acids because they are important for good health. The body cannot make these fatty acids on its own so omega-3s must be obtained from food.

The AHA suggests that people should eat at least two servings of oily fish each week to help keep their hearts healthy. Good sources of omega-3s available locally are oysters and tuna.

Older folks considered fish as “brain food” and now scientists have evidence to back the claim. A 2007 study of nearly 12,000 pregnant women found that children born to mothers who ate more than 340 grams of seafood per week during pregnancy scored six points higher on tests of verbal IQ than kids born to mothers who had other foods on the menu.

What about adults? A study done in Sweden found that young men who ate fish more than once a week scored nearly 11 percent higher on IQ tests than males who rarely ate seafood. In later years, fish eaters appear to be less likely to develop dementia.


Estimates show that depression will occupy second place among the causes of diseases and incapacity in the world this year, behind cardiovascular diseases. In the Philippines, some 3.3 million people suffer from depression.

A study published in Biological Psychiatry has shown that omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent depression. Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, who studies the health benefits of fish at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, discovered omega-3 fatty acids can raise the levels of serotonin and dopamine, two brain chemicals that are thought to play a role in depression.


As much as 90 percent of the tilapia cultured in the country is sex-reversed, according to research. The tilapias are fed with a synthetic sex hormone called methyltestosterone, a man-made form of testosterone.

According to the study, the oral treatment with methyltestosterone in tilapia is only for three to four weeks during the sexless stage of the fry.

After withdrawal of the treatment, there are no residuals left in the system of the fish after 92 hours.

Since the fry are grown for at least three to four months for market and human consumption, it is very safe. There can, therefore, be no side effects if there is no synthetic hormone left in the systems of the fish.

In the Philippines, about 56 percent of animal protein consumed comes from fish. Fish is the country’s second staple food next to rice. Unfortunately, fish are becoming a scarce commodity these days. Majority of the fishing grounds in the country are overfished. “Overfishing is the main issue, with today’s fishers ranging farther and trying harder to catch more – but there are more fishers and too few fish,” observes Gregg Yan, director for Communications for Ocean Philippines.


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