Have you gotten your daily dose of fish? Here in the Mariana Islands our community has for centuries been blessed with the great bounties of the sea. In fact, the history of the islands traces itself back to the very conquering of this very valuable resources with the ancestors of Ancient Chamorros seeking out far flung islands through ocean going canoes, living off a diet primarily of fish. Despite the many health disparities that are prevalent in our community, the jury is out on the fact that fish and seafood have and always will be a part of healthy eating pattern according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Good for Mom & Baby
As it is said in the islands people from the Mariana Islands know everything, just ask anyone anything and they’ll say, “I know right!” Perhaps this depth of knowledge comes from our long history of eating fish which has been identified as providing key nutrients during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and early childhood support for a child’s brain development. This is through four key nutrients found in fish — Omega 3 fatty acids, Iron, Iodine and Choline. Choline especially is known to support the development of the child’s spinal cord. Meanwhile, Iron and Zinc support a child’s healthy immune system. However, the benefits do not stop there as fish are also known to be a source of other essential nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D and selenium.
In addition, eating cooked fish (not fried or raw) during pregnancy is support with moderate scientific evidence to assist with a baby’s cognitive development, promotes bone health, decreases the risk of obesity in children, promote heart health and decrease risk of colon and rectal cancers.
Not All Fish are the Same
It should be noted by anyone looking to incorporate fish into their healthy diet that there are still some fish foods that although healthy for you may contain too much mercury which can undo all your hard work towards a healthy lifestyle. Luckily, the FDA has a handy chart that can help you make the right choice on your next grocery trip.
Take a Note from the Ancestors
When it comes to the growing food movement here in the Mariana Islands to eat healthier and live happier, then perhaps fish can be a viable option to get ourselves and our loved ones on track with health. Today, our community has been negatively impacted by the modern diet of salty, sugary and overprocessed foods which are associated with chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. This is why it is increasingly important to examine the nourishment that we are putting into our bodies and re-evaluate our food choices This is not to say that we can’t and shouldn’t afford ourselves a treat here and there, however if we want to encourage better health outcomes then perhaps it’s high time we take a note from the ancestors and add more fish to the menu.