What are the health benefits of mackerel? One of my favourite ingredients, especially when combined with spicy, peppery, and earthy flavours.
Heart & circulation
Mackerel is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, those all-important good fats. This is the main key to the health benefits of salmon. These help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and protect the blood vessels from inflammatory damage, which can be the first step in the process that later leads to heart attacks. More on this below. Omega 3 is also beneficial for the rate and extent to which blood clots.
Arthritis, asthma, eczema
Omega-3 fatty acids are very powerful anti-inflammatory agents. They are the metabolic building blocks for our own inherent anti-inflammatory compounds. The body actually transforms them into our own built-in anti-inflammatories that can ‘turn off’ the inflammatory reaction. These inflammatory mediator compounds are called prostaglandins. There are three types of prostaglandins – series 1, series 2, and series 3. Series 1 is mildly anti-inflammatory, series 2 is strongly PRO inflammatory, and series 3 are strongly ANTI-inflammatory. One of the main omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as mackerel, EPA, is the metabolic precursor to the powerfully anti-inflammatory series 3 prostaglandins. By eating more of these we are encouraging an increased production of our own in built anti-inflammatories.
Neurological system health
Omega 3 is also vital for the health of the brain and nervous system. The cells within this system have a special arrangement of fatty material on their outer surface, called the myelin sheath, that is vital for sending and receiving messages. This fatty material can get damaged, and needs adequate essential fats for maintenance. Research has shown that omega 3 can be beneficial in issues such as depression, memory enhancement, even behaviour and mood stability. This is most likely due to the omega 3 fatty acid called DHA. This is essentially a structural fatty acid that is involved in maintaining the myelin sheath. It also has a key role to play in maintaining receptor structure and function for receptors such as those that detect signals sent by neurotransmitters. So in short, increased omega 3 consumption can aid with the maintenance of the nerve cell structure and function. However, there may be an additional link in omega 3 and mental health. There are some theories that suggest certain issues like depression and dementia may have an inflammatory link within their pathophysiology. If this is the case, the anti-inflammatory benefits outlined above may be relevant.