There are some key nutrients which science shows are essential for our long-term health and wellbeing yet low in our UK diet; Omega 3 oils DHA and EPA, Vitamin D, Antioxidants, Iodine, Vitamin B12… the list goes on. This same science has led to Public Heath England (PHE) recommending that we all eat at least two portions of fish every week, one of which should be oily. Enter British Trout!
Sport recovery, lack of sleep and healthy ageing – pink is good!
Trout is a fabulous source of pink Astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant and a precurso of Vitamin A. Every system in our body uses oxygen for essential day to day functioning, our ‘metabolism’. As vital as this is, the by-products of metabolism are potentially toxic, leading to cell damage if not removed by antioxidants. This cell damage is the natural ageing process but can also increase risk of chronic disease like heart disease and stroke, Type 2 Diabetes and Cancer. Fortunately, we constantly make antioxidants – our daily detox system! But, when our antioxidant need is much greater – stress, medicines, sport recovery, and even lack of sleep for example, relying on our food to provide extra antioxidants becomes really important.
Trout and Omega 3: the 101
We know from many years of research that two types of Omega 3, DHA and EPA are essential for our health and wellbeing. This is because they are crucial in the structure of many cell membranes, vital for the correct functioning of all our body systems. 60% of our brain tissue is DHA whereas EPA is especially high in the cells of our immune system and those lining blood vessels. DHA and EPA therefore have key roles in reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, inflammatory disease, correct brain development even before birth, and more recent research suggests associations between a higher fish intake and reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Dementia.
What about plant sources of Omega 3?
Plants provide a type of Omega 3 called ALA. Enzymes in our body must covert this ALA to the more beneficial EPA and DHA. However, this is a slow process producing far less EPA and DHA than that found in Trout. Plants also tend to be high in Omega 6 – important for our health but requiring these same enzymes for its conversion, reducing our ability to produce EPA and DHA from plant sources still further. For this reason, Public Health England recommend we try to eat Omega 6: Omega 3 at a ratio of no more than 6:1 and is why fish like trout is highly recommended twice a week. When fish is low in our diet this ratio becomes more like 10:1 with far less benefit for our long-term health.
Vitamin D – the sunshine Vitamin that we need more of…
In 2016, PHE recommended that we should all take Vitamin D supplements over the winter months when direct UV exposure is very low. 95% of our Vitamin D comes from exposing our skin to the sun – cloudy British summers, high use of sun blocks and less time spent outdoors are all reducing our ability to make Vitamin D which is essential for good bone density and a strong immune system (little wonder colds come visiting over the winter!) Very few foods contain Vitamin D with oily fish like British trout being one of the best sources.
What about Iodine?
It’s a little known fact that Iodine is required for brain development too – a ‘parent and child’ study released in the Lancet in 2015 demonstrated that children born to iodine-deficient mothers had lower IQs. Milk is one of the best sources of iodine – encouraging children to eat fish if they’re not big milk-drinkers can help to ensure iodine levels, which are also needed for healthy growth, are as they should be.
What about pregnancy?
Because of the important roles of DHA in brain development, the need for Omega 3 doubles during pregnancy and is even higher with breast-feeding. PHE recommendations of one portion of oily fish each week takes this need into account and ensures no risk from PCBs. Whereas some seafood is not advised during pregnancy, British trout is low in mercury and is a good choice to benefit from other nutrients which are important for foetal development too.
British trout – a fabulous food for healthy ageing!
Many of the nutrients present in trout are fabulous for all-ages. Some of these are especially good in older years. Vitamin A for example is vital for healthy eyes and vision. Vitamin B12, required to prevent anaemia and for the correct functioning of nerves is only available from animal sources or fermented foods; trout is an excellent source! With increasing age, we become less efficient at absorbing Vitamin B12 due to a natural process called Atrophic Gastritis and so it becomes really important to ensure good levels from our food. Fish also contains very high-quality protein with all the essential building blocks that we need to make our own proteins. From about 60 years of age a natural process called Sarcopenia occurs resulting in loss of strength in our muscles – sometimes it becomes harder to open tins due to weaker wrists for example. As well as staying active to help keep muscles strong, foods containing high quality protein become really important. Even better – trout requires very little chewing and is quick and easy to cook!
Chowdbury et al (2014) Association of Dietary, circulating and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk; systematic review and meta-analysis Annals of internal med 160 398-406
P.C.Calder., (2017) Omega 3: The Good Oil BNF Nutrition Bulletin 42 132-140
Emmett P.M., Jones L.R., Golding J. Pregnancy diet and associated outcomes in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (2015) Nutrition Reviews (73) I 154–174
Review of Nutritional & Health Benefits for the British Trout AssociationRead Report