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Sardines, one of the sustainable species valued for their nutritional properties AFP
Eating more sardines and less red meat would prevent 750,000 deaths
Health

Eating more sardines and less red meat would prevent 750,000 deaths

New research has calculated how many lethal diseases could be avoided if 8% of animal intake were replaced with fish

Friday, 12 April 2024, 12:56

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Swapping red meat for oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies and herring would prevent 75,000 deaths, according to new research.

Researchers cross-referenced data on meat production with catches of these fish, as well as consumption of both, paired with the global incidence of diseases associated with eating animals, and they concluded between 500,000 and 750,000 fewer deaths from preventable diseases associated with red meat in low and middle-income countries by 2050.

To reach the conclusions, published in the journal BMJ Global Health, the authors used data projections for 2050 for 137 countries. The research estimated that sardines, herring and anchovies could replace only 8% of the world's red meat, due to their limited supply, "but may increase global daily per capita fish consumption close to the recommended level", so the effect on overall health would be significant.

The researchers pointed out these species are "highly nutritious, environmentally friendly, affordable and the most abundant in the ocean". They are therefore "receiving increasing interest from a global food system perspective".

Researchers also pointed out the study is significant as little research has examined the impact of replacing red meat with forage fish (those with low market value but high health benefits) in the global diet on diet-related non-communicable diseases, such as ischaemic heart disease, stroke, diabetes and colorectal cancer in particular.

Valuable nutritional properties

This type of fish has a high content of DHA and EPA, two omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids that have been shown to have very beneficial effects on the body, while continued high consumption of red meat, mainly from cattle, is linked to the development of cardiovascular diseases and some types of cancer.

"The two pathologies that produce the highest mortality and health spending in Spain," Jesús Francisco García-Gavilán, researcher at CIBERobn told Science Media Center España.

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