January 26, 2007

Sounds Fishy

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When I was growing up, there were always things that I could expect for dinner. For example, we’d have white rice every single day, something very typical of an Asian family. But also something I could count on was fish at least twice a week. I don’t know if that had anything to do with being Asian or not, but I do know that I grew to love fish. Man oh man, I loved every single bite of every single fish I tried. So when I came to Cornell and discovered that some people don’t eat fish at all, I was pretty surprised. How could people not like the delicious fishy taste that I so loved? In any case, I quickly learned that Cornell was a pretty diverse place and fish was the least of our differences. Whatever, I would just keep eating fish and they would just keep missing out.

However, it wasn’t until I really got into health that I realized that eating fish had amazing health benefits. Thus, my friends were not only missing out on the taste but on these health benefits as well. One of the biggest health problems in America is heart disease — the number one killer of Americans every year. Heart disease, a term used to describe a number of diseases of the heart, is almost always associated with atherosclerosis. When a baby is born, all its arteries are clean and free of fatty residues. However, as the baby grows into an adult, atherosclerosis usually begins to clog the once- clean arteries. High-saturated-fat and high-cholesterol diets have been shown to accelerate this process.

But fish have something that can combat the effects of atherosclerosis and heart disease — conditions which sometimes end in a heart attack or stroke leading to death. This substance is called an omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3’s are a type of unsaturated fat. This means that if you looked at its structure, there are double bonds present. What “Omega-3” means is that the first double bond is on the third carbon atom from the end of the molecule. But enough about structure. What is it about these fatty acids that enable them to combat heart disease? Numerous studies have shown Omega-3 fatty acids are able to dilate the blood vessels, inhibit clotting, and reduce inflammation. These all reduce one’s chances of heart attack and stroke. The American Heart Association already recommends eating fish at least twice a week. For more information, check out the AHA’s website.

For anyone that knows me personally, they know how much of a fanatic I am for these wonderful substances. Consequently, this will not be the last time I will talk about them. They have some other amazing health benefits as well. But until then, consider having some fish.