Healthy Living A to Z: F

Fish

Fish is a high-protein, low-fat food that provides a range of health benefits. White-fleshed fish, in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein, and oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, or the “good” fats. Since the human body can’t make significant amounts of these essential nutrients, fish is an important part of our diet. Also, fish is low in the “bad” fats commonly found in red meat, called omega-6 fatty acids. A growing body of evidence indicates that omega-3 fatty acids provide a number of health benefits. They:

  • help maintain cardiovascular health by playing a role in the regulation of blood clotting and vessel constriction;
  • are important for prenatal and postnatal neurological development;
  • may reduce tissue inflammation and alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis;
  • may play a beneficial role in cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), reducing depression and halting mental decline in older people.

The omega-3s found in fish (EPA and DHA) appear to provide the greatest health benefits. Fish that are high in omega-3s, low in environmental contaminants and eco-friendly include:

  • wild salmon from Alaska (fresh, frozen and canned),
  • Arctic char,
  • Atlantic mackerel,
  • sardines,
  • sablefish,
  • anchovies
  • farmed rainbow trout and
  • albacore tuna from the U.S. and Canada.

http://seafood.edf.org/benefits-eating-fish

Flexibility

Activities that lengthen and stretch muscles can help you prevent injuries, back pain, and balance problems.

A well-stretched muscle more easily achieves its full range of motion. This improves athletic performance — imagine an easier, less restricted golf swing or tennis serve — and functional abilities, such as reaching, bending, or stooping during daily tasks. Stretching can also be a great way to get you moving in the morning or a way to relax after a long day. Activities such as yoga combine stretching and relaxation and also improve balance, a wonderful combination.

However, note that experts no longer recommend stretching before exercise. Newer recommendations suggest that you start your workout routine with a warm-up, such as an easy walk or a sport-specific routine, such as serving some tennis balls and practicing ground strokes before a match. This gets blood and oxygen flowing to your muscles. After five to 10 minutes of warm-up, your muscles are warm and supple. This is a good time to stretch. You can even do your flexibility exercises as a post-workout cool-down.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/benefits-of-flexibility-exercises

 

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