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Healthy Eating: Fish for Omega-3

.Food can cheer you up, says Susan Jane White, so wrap your laughing gear around a tasty fish dish full of omega-3

More than 400,000 people experience depression at any one time in Ireland. That's a lot of Prozac. And Dairy Milk. The good news is that depression is increasingly being linked to dietary deficiencies, thus affording us the opportunity to address the condition through simple and effective food choices. I'm not suggesting a cure-all. Even Disney would laugh at such phoney optimism. However, studies on omega-3 fats supplementation and recovery from depression are apparently showing some results. Ask your pharmacist

Professor Tom Saldeen of Harvard Medical School recommends a diet high in omega-3 to fight depression. Saldeen's 45 years of research has found that low concentrations of serotonin in the brain almost always correlate to low blood levels of omega-3, particularly DHA.

This evidence is backed by Dr Andrew Stoll, best-selling author of The Omega-3 Connection. Stoll was responsible for the publication of the first, scientifically rigorous clinical trial on omega-3 fats in psychiatry. Stoll's patients with bipolar disorder experienced an improvement in mood stabilisation over a four-month trial period, while the placebo group experienced no change.

Mood and activity in the brain is dependent upon a series of chemical signals that cross each membrane with the help of neurotransmitters. This intricate process is referred to as transduction -- sort of like a messaging service or a call centre. Now that we know omega-3 fats are a core component in every cell membrane, they are deemed crucial for signal transduction. In other words, happy call-centre staff.

If, like me, you'd rather supplement your diet naturally with food and not pharma, then fill your shopping basket with herring, mackerel, wild salmon, sardines, anchovies, flaxseed oil, chia or hemp seed. All provide better flavour and fun than those fish-oil bullets. After all, where's the decadence in a tablet?

Herring is particularly cheap, and can be found at your local Lidl and Aldi stores. They're hiding under the name of rollmops. These pickled fish are naturally high in omega-3 and vitamin D. Just watch out for the sugar content of jarred herrings -- manufacturers tend to sneak it into the recipe.

Chopped Herring

This is one of the classic Jewish recipes. Considering 58 per cent of Nobel Prize winners in economics are of Jewish descent, it would be fair to conclude that Jewish mamas know how to nourish their brood. Besides, it's guaranteed to send your serotonin into orbit.

Not just an antidote to depression, the omega-3 fats in herring guard against cognitive decline. Or what we Irish refer to as our 'senior moments'. No need to agonise over a pesky Rubik's Cube every day. Go boost your brainpower with this Laureate-loving recipe instead.

You will need:

4 pickled herrings (rollmops will do)

1 small mild onion

2 hard-boiled eggs

½ apple (optional)

Bunch of flat-leaf parsley

With your sharpest knife, skin and finely dice the pickled herring. Repeat same with the mild onion, the hard-boiled eggs and the apple, if you are using it. Roughly chop the flat-leaf parsley and tumble everything together. You may want a little yogurt to bring it all together, but this is not considered authentic.

Chopped herring is traditionally served on wheaten Matzo crackers, but I'm sure it's OK to Irishify it and include some brown soda bread. All that's missing is a side salad of chopped beetroot, dill and walnut, and maybe a sun-hat in the garden.


See www.susanjanewhite.com

Sunday Indo Life Magazine