Pelagic fish in diet bring immense benefits, says new study

Swapping red meat for small pelagic fish such as herring, sardines and anchovies could save 750,000 lives a year and help tackle the climate crisis, a study suggests.

Mounting evidence links red meat consumption with a higher risk of disease in humans as well as significant harm to the environment. In contrast, small pelagic fish are highly nutritious, environmentally friendly and the most abundant fish species in the world’s oceans.

While research has shown the benefits of forage fish (small pelagic fish), until now it has been unclear to what extent they might cut the global burden of disease if substituted for red meat. Now a team of Japanese and Australian researchers have an answer after conducting the largest analysis of its kind, involving data from more than 130 countries.

Small pelagics are rich in omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, the intake of which may prevent coronary heart disease, as well as being abundant in calcium and vitamin B12. They also have the lowest carbon footprint of any animal food source, the researchers said.

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