Tuesday, 10 September 2013 08:00

Nutrition – Why Athletes Should Eat More Fish by Katie Kissane

Fish has been getting a lot of publicity lately. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, or sardines contain a form of unsaturated fat known as omega-3 fatty acid. Research has shown that fish is good for heart health because omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation, which can damage blood vessels and lead to heart disease. Fish oil not only reduces the inflammation that damages blood vessels, but also reduces inflammation all over the body, including muscles.

Athletes put a great amount of stress on their bodies. This stress can lead to the inflammation of skeletal muscles and other tissues. After an intense workout, the muscles need to recover and repair. It is important to provide the building blocks to repair damaged muscles and top off carbohydrate stores. Many athletes have a shake or meal containing protein and carbohydrates for recovery. Consider planning a meal containing fish as part of your recovery plan. The fish will provide a good source of protein and the omega-3 fatty acids in the fish can act as a natural anti-inflammatory and aid in muscle recovery and repair.

Fish oils may also be immune enhancing. Many athletes who train long hours or at a high intensity have a temporary decline in immune function. Studies have reported that various immune cell functions are temporarily impaired following acute bouts of prolonged and continuous heavy exercise. There are studies that indicate that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the immune system. This could also be due to the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 fatty acids.

Many people take fish oil supplements to get the omega-3 fatty acids, but they are missing other vital nutrients that fish can provide. Fish is an excellent source of protein and nutrients such as vitamin B12 and iron. Eating fish is a great way to get protein in the diet for muscle recovery. Substituting fish for a meal containing red meat is a healthy way to get the protein without the saturated fat.

Fish can be easy to prepare and delicious. Are you a fussy fish eater? Included is a recipe for maple-mustard salmon. This is delicious and even the fussiest fish eater will love this dish. Include some sweet potatoes and broccoli or other dark green non-starchy vegetable and you have created the perfect, nutrient-dense post workout meal.

Try this tasty (and easy) fish recipe

Maple-Mustard Salmon (3-4 4-ounce servings)

¼ cup spicy mustard such as Grey Poupon


2 tablespoon maple syrup

1 lb fresh Atlantic salmon filet

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put a layer of aluminum foil on a baking dish and place the salmon filet on top. Mix the spicy mustard and syrup in a bowl then spread the mixture on top of the salmon. Place salmon in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

Katie Kissane, MS, RD

My Nutrition Coach, LLC

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