Is Fish Really Brain Food?

Fish brain food?
A lovely, healthful salmon dinner. Maybe add a small baked potato.
It’s been years since I’ve heard anyone describe fish as brain food. But they did. And there was no disproof that the saying was correct. So what’s the verdict? Is there any validity to the idea that fish is good for the central nervous system and specifically for the brain?

Fat and Cholesterol

Fish is low in calories. Fish is low in fat, especially saturated fat. The varieties of food fish highest in fat contain no more than about 15% fat. In fact, fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Most fish are relatively low in cholesterol. The overall conclusion is that fish is a suitable dietary addition for those who wish to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke. Yet its being a healthful food does not answer our question, Why do they call fish brain food?

Protein and Amino Acids

Proteins are nitrogen containing compounds consisting of chains of amino acids. It can be compared to a quilt made from individual squares of material. They are joined together by peptide linkages, -C(=O)NH- (see the image). Proteins are essential for the maintenance of the body. Fish is a rich source of protein. But the protein from fish does not favor the brain and central nervous system over the rest of the body. It is not especially brain food.

Fish brain food?
A peptide linkage.

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals occur in abundance in fish. Many of these substances are currently believed to be wholesome and assist the body to resist certain health issues. But the single nutritional factor fish contains that is beneficial to the central nervous system and brain is its B-vitamin complex.

So Is Fish Brain Food?

Who would benefit most from this? Would it not be a developing baby? So although it may not be a valid statement in general, perhaps it can be said that fish is a brain food for developing infants.

Note: You might also enjoy Potato Varieties: Nutritional Differences

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2 Comments

  • healthy diet Reply

    I remember a long time ago, a lecturer saying that his mother made him eat fish, saying it was brain food, but he had found out that the particular substance mentioned did not cross the blood brain barrier, so it was NOT brain food and he had given it up. He didn’t like fish. I believe recent research has found some brain benefit from eating fish but it’s not the omega 3s. I think they may not be sure exactly what is working but they have found a brain benefit.

    • Vincent Summers Reply

      When their brain lets them figure it out, they can inform us what that benefit is…

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