Fish is food for the brain as well as a source of good protein. Fish has excellent nutritional
value, providing high quality protein and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including
vitamins A and D, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and iodine in marine fish. It's protein
is easily digestible and complements dietary protein provided by cereals and legumes that
are typically consumed in many developing countries.
The brain is largely composed of fat and fats along with water are the chief components of
brain cell membranes and the specialized tissues enclosing the nerves. The anti-fat
message promoted as part of heart-healthy diets these days makes it easy to forget that
not all fats are "bad," and that some types are essential to human life.
Experts agree that even in small quantities, fish can have a significant positive impact in
improving the quality of dietary protein by complementing the essential amino acids that
are often present in low quantities in vegetable-based diets. But recent research shows
that fish is much more than just an alternative source of animal protein. Fish oils in fatty
fish are the richest source of a type of fat that is vital to normal brain development in
unborn babies and infants. Without adequate amounts of these fatty acids, normal brain
development does not take place.
Closely spaced pregnancies, often seen in developing countries can lead to the depletion
of a mother's supply of essential fatty acids, leaving newborns deprived of this vital
nutrient at a crucial stage in their growth. This makes fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel
and sardines all of which are commonly available in developing countries a particularly
good choice for the diet of pregnant and lactating women.
People in developing countries are much more dependent on fish as part of their daily
diets than those living in the developed world. Figures show that while fish provide slightly
over 7 percent of animal protein in North and Central America and more than 9 percent in
Europe, in Africa they provide over 17 percent, in Asia over 26 percent, and in the low
income food deficit countries including China they provide nearly 22 percent.
So it is not just an old wives tale that fish is brain food and if you have trouble
understanding the nutritional value of seafood in your diet, it's time for some sushi!