Benefits of eating fish

Eating plenty of fish on a regular basis can help protect you from a range of serious diseases. But are there any dangers in eating too much?
SalmonOily fish such as salmon have the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids

Fish is a superfood. Packed with vitamins and minerals, and a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, fish can help to protect against a range of diseases, from cancer to heart disease, depression to arthritis.

The benefits of eating fish

Heart disease

No wonder the Government wants us all to eat more, with the Food Standards Agency recommending at least two portions a week of fresh, frozen, or tinned seafood (one of them of oily fish). The British Heart Foundation says eating oily fish can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve your chances of survival following a heart attack. Fish does this by lowering levels of fats called triglycerides in the blood - raised levels are associated with heart disease. Fish oils also appear to help reduce blood clotting and abnormal heart rhythms after a heart attack.


Polyunsaturated fatty acids found in many fish may prevent damage to brain cells. Eating fish can also reduce the risk of high blood pressure, which is linked with dementia. A French study of 2000 people showed that those who ate seafood at least once a week had a significantly lower risk of dementia over a seven-year period than those who didn't.


A Swedish study of 6000 men over a 30-year period showed that those who didn't eat any fish had between double and treble the risk of developing prostate cancer, compared to those who ate moderate or large amounts. Shellfish, such as crab and lobster, also contains selenium, thought to have cancer-fighting properties.


It's been reported that fish can help to ease depression. Again, it's down to omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to raise levels of the brain chemical serotonin.


Population groups that eat a lot of fish - Inuits in Greenland, for example - have low rates of inflammatory conditions such as arthritis. Studies have also shown fish oils to be useful in relieving the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Social benefits

According to research carried out in Mauritius, children given lots of fish from the age of three are less likely to have criminal records by the time they reach 23.


According to dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, author of The Perricone Prescription, a salmon-packed diet can help smooth out age lines.

Which fish to eat

  • White fish like cod are a good source of low-fat protein and minerals.
  • Oily fish such as sardines, pilchards, salmon and mackerel have the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Crab, lobster and mussels come into the shellfish group and contain selenium, thought to have cancer-fighting properties.

We have a wide range of fish recipes available online.

What about fish oil capsules?

Fish oil capsules can be a useful addition to a healthy diet. Research has found that taking a single fish oil capsule daily could save the lives of 10,000 heart failure patients a year. That’s the claim from doctors following a review of studies into treatment with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Professor Martin Cowie says "The important point here is that a lot of people will have read about fish oil being good for you and think that they can go to their local shop and buy any old cod liver oil capsules. But the form of the medicine given in these studies is a highly concentrated, highly purified form of fish oil, called Omacor.

"I use it in my practice, lots of doctors do, but not all." You can ask your GP to prescribe it for you if you have heart problems. You can also ask your pharmacist, who will probably need to ask you a few questions about your medical history, to make sure this treatment is appropriate for you. If you do take this route, make sure to tell your doctor that you are taking it, and don’t stop taking existing medicines unless you have first discussed it with your doctor.

"This medication is a reasonable way of spending money in the Health Service," said Professor Cowie. "Not only is it effective clinically, it’s cost effective." Omacor capsules cost the NHS about 50p per patient per day. Bought from your local pharmacy they will probably cost around £15 for a month’s supply.

Subscribe to our fortnightly health newsletter for more fascinating health news and features.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.


  • Thumb

    Can you eat too much fish?

    There are concerns about the levels of naturally-occurring mercury and other chemicals in seafood

    Read on

  • Thumb

    Feel better with fish

    Scientists find even more reasons for upping your intake of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids

    Read on

  • Thumb

    The health benefits of different oils

    Drizzle, pour or splash - oil is essential for a healthy body. But which oil is best for you to use and for what? We compare some of the most popular cooking oils

    Read on

  • Brain smart

    Eat smart: brain boosting tips

    The food you eat directly affects how your brain performs. By eating the right food, you may be able to boost your IQ, improve your mood, sharpen your memory and keep your mind active

    Read on

  • Saga Health Insurance

    Health insurance

    A comprehensive range of competitively priced HealthPlans.


  • Health Club

    Health Club

    Free membership and free online assessment to see how healthy you could be.


  • HCP thumbnail

    Health Cash Plan

    You can claim up to 75% of your common everyday healthcare expenses including dental and optical treatments.


  • fgfg

    Posted: Thursday 03 July 2014

    very usfull information

  • jake

    Posted: Wednesday 18 June 2014


  • yourmum

    Posted: Wednesday 07 May 2014

    good help

  • lonir

    Posted: Tuesday 01 April 2014

    information about fish

  • mads

    Posted: Thursday 23 January 2014

    very good information helped me greatly with my food tech work in school:)

  • freddy

    Posted: Tuesday 27 August 2013


  • gladys

    Posted: Thursday 18 July 2013

    i like fish but i dont know if fish can make me fat

  • inayathulla khan

    Posted: Saturday 04 May 2013

    fish is really very good for the health


Type your comment here

 characters remaining.

Saga Magazine

For more fascinating stories and insightful articles, why not try Saga Magazine for just £1 for 3 issues.

Health Insurance

Choose Saga Health Insurance for...

  • Prompt access to private medical treatment
  • A great choice of HealthPlans
  • Easy to take out cover.

Fish and seafood recipes

Browse our fish recipe collection for a wide range of tasty seafood dishes to suit every occasion, whether you are looking for a homely fish pie or an exotic curry.

Saga health e-newsletter

Keep up to date with the latest health news by signing up to our fortnightly health e-newsletter.

Health Cash Plan

Over 50s can claim back 75% of healthcare costs

  • Help with everyday healthcare expenses
  • Cash towards dental and optical bills, plus many more healthcare costs.