FoodUnlocking the health powerhouse: The impact of herring on diets and health

Unlocking the health powerhouse: The impact of herring on diets and health

"Herring and their properties"
"Herring and their properties"
Images source: © Adobe Stock | Iakov Filimonov

2:47 PM EST, January 9, 2024

Although herring has maintained its status in some countries' cuisine over the years, it's not just a symbol of tradition but also a true health powerhouse. These fish, esteemed for their health-promoting properties, provide the body with numerous essential nutrients. And understanding the benefits of eating herring can help us maximize their nutritional potential.

Having been a part of some households for generations, herrings not only add a touch of tradition to holiday dishes but also offer notable health benefits. Here's how herring intake affects our body and brings valuable nutrients.

Herring: a small fish with big health benefits

Despite being low in calories, herrings are a rich source of healthy fats, notably polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). These substances have a favorable influence on our health, positioning herring as one of the most preferred fish varieties in some countries' cuisine. Herrings are not only a part of holiday meals but also serve as a delicious snack for all occasions.

Health benefits of herring

1. Omega acids – beneficial for the nervous system and heart

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in herring play an instrumental role in maintaining the health of the nervous system, brain, and heart. They aid cognitive processes, attention, regulate blood clotting, and balance hormones. Additional benefits for the heart include reducing bad cholesterol levels.

2. Vitamin D and magnesium – boosters for bones and nerves

Herring is rich in cholecalciferol, or vitamin D, which contributes to proper calcium management, promoting bone and nervous system health. Moreover, the presence of magnesium, vital for nerves and muscles, makes herring an essential part of a diet, particularly for children, pregnant women, and those suffering from muscular dystrophy.

3. Unsaturated fats – contributing to a balanced diet and weight maintenance

The unsaturated fats found in herring help promote feelings of satiety, beneficial for those mindful of their weight. By helping balance blood glucose and insulin levels, herring is an excellent choice for those managing their weight.

4. Iron – a guard against anemia

Herring, being high in iron, can aid in preventing anemia. Ample hemoglobin facilitates effective oxygen transport to the cells, leading to increased energy levels and reduced fatigue.

5. Vitamin E – defender of cells against oxidative stress

Herring contains Vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that neutralizes the harmful effects of free radicals counteracting oxidative stress in cells. It is an important dietary component for children who should attain tocopherol from natural sources rather than supplements.

6. Helps lower blood pressure for a healthier heart

Studies highlight that herring consumption can aid in reducing arterial blood pressure. The presence of omega-3 acid in herring may enhance the ability to regulate blood pressure, thereby fortifying heart health.

Herring: a healthy choice within everyone's budget

At a time when leading a healthy diet seems like a luxury, herrings hit the mark. They are reasonably priced, locally fished, making them accessible to most consumers. Additionally, herrings contain lower mercury concentrations compared to some other fish, making them both a nutritious and economical choice.

Potential side effects of consuming herring

When consumed in their natural form, herrings are a safe part of the diet for adults, children, and pregnant women. However, herrings are often available in a salted version, a preservation technique used to extend their shelf life. This is because herrings, a species made up of around 85% water, necessitate preservation from the time of catching to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms and the loss of meat freshness.

Herrings sold in buckets typically contain more salt than those sold by weight, making them less suitable for individuals with high blood pressure. Also, pickled herring may not be the best choice for those suffering from stomach ulcers or those with increased stomach acidity.

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