Eating fish is good for the brain but frying alters its nutrients

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Mothers and grandmothers often repeat it to children: “Eat fish, so you get smart.” They are right, with a small distinction: according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, consuming fish at least once a week increases the volume of gray matter, provided that it is cooked with healthy methods, avoiding fries. According to the data, collected on 260 people who, in addition to providing information on their eating habits, underwent an MRI scan of the brain, eating fish cooked on the grill or in the oven makes it possible to “enlarge” from 4 to 14% brain areas connected to memory and to cognitiveness. But the positive effect is lost if you prefer fried fish, even if you opt for the richest species of the precious omega-3, the main ones responsible for the benefits of fish on the nervous system.

In a balanced and healthy diet, nothing should be forbidden, therefore even a fried fish can be good every now and then. But, frying exposes the food to very high temperatures with a negative effect on the quantity and quality of nutrients. In order not to compromise the contents of vitamins and fatty acids, it is much better to cook fish for short times and without reaching too high temperatures. In this way, the risks that could derive from raw consumption are reduced, more flavor is maintained, and above all the full of precious nutrients, especially the omega-3s. These fatty acids, which are found in abundance in fish, crustaceans, and seafood, but also in almonds and walnuts, have antioxidant effects and improve the composition of the membranes of brain cells. Salmon and bluefish (such as anchovies, mackerel, sardines) are particularly rich in it.

The newly published research indicates that you should eat seafood at least once a week. It is the minimum, a “dose” that can be useful, to bring those who are not used to eating it closer to fish. It would be better to bring it to the table at least two or three times a week, the ideal is to consume it four times. Given that it matters a lot how to cook, is there anyway “better” fish than others? In fact, no. You can range between the different varieties by including in the diet also seafood, even if less rich in omega-3, or cuttlefish, squid, and octopus, longer to digest for the quality of their proteins but equally valid.

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