Pickled herring is found in all Nordic countries but occupies a special place in the heart of Danes. It has been popular in Danish cuisine ever since the Middle Ages and can be found in smørrebrød up and down the country. Not only is it delicious but it has also been proven to possess a wealth of different major health benefits. It is a source of selenium, which can help to combat low thyroid function and dementia. Research published in the Daily Mail indicates that it could also have a role to play in preventing AIDS, as people who have low levels of it in their bodies have been observed to be almost twenty times more likely to suffer from a fatality at the hands of the condition.
Reduced Risk of Obesity-Related Liver Damage
Herring also contains omega-3 fatty acid, which is thought to be able to protect against harm to the liver caused by obesity. A study carried out by González-Périz et al of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics at the Hospital Clinic i Provincial de Barcelona in Spain found that lipids called resolvins and protectins that are derived from this type of fatty acid can decrease instances of liver damage in obese people. This implies that herring could be of great benefit to people who are overweight and wish to minimize the damaging effect of obesity upon their bodies.
Improved Heart Health
Dr Carl Lavie of the Ochsner Medical Centre in New Orleans led a review of the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid in 2009 and came to the conclusion that it is effective in multiple aspects of preventative cardiology. Lavie pointed out that patients with cardiovascular disease saw a thirty-percent decrease in cardiovascular-related fatalities after taking omega-3 supplements. The theory is that this variety of acid works from inside membranes of cells and improves the blood pressure and electrical activity of the heart. The Food Standards Agency has advised that herring is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acid, meaning that pickled herring is not only a pleasure to eat but can also help you to maintain a healthy heart and reduce the risk of disease or death as a result of cardiovascular complications.
Warding Off Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis
Pickled herring also contains vitamin D, which can ward off the development of diabetes in later life. The chance of individuals contracting Type 1 diabetes has been observed to fall by a third when they take supplementary doses of this vitamin. Research published in The Telegraph suggests that low levels of this vitamin have been linked to Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Consultant senior lecturer in paediatrics at Ealing Hospital in London Colin Michie has suggested that ensuring that all pregnant women consume the correct amount of vitamin D could reduce the number of people who suffer from multiple sclerosis by up to four fifths.
Preventing Rickets and Osteomalacia
Another benefit of vitamin D is that it prevents rickets and osteomalacia. Osteomalacia is a condition that causes brittle bones and weakness of the muscles. It is most prevalent amongst people who are lacking in vitamin D. Rickets is a skeletal deformity that is mostly seen in children who possess a vitamin D deficiency. The vitamin can also provide the body with calcium, regulate blood pressure and provide a protective lining for blood vessels, consequently improving cardiovascular strength.
The Greatest Benefit of All
The greatest benefit of pickled herring is the fact that it is delicious. It is enjoyable to eat, which of course is the thing that counts when it comes to food. The fact that it possesses such a wealth of different health benefits makes it even better. There are few foodstuffs that are as tasty and advantageous to the human body as herring is. It can improve cardiovascular health, ward off a range of different adverse medical conditions and even reduce the negative effects of obesity. Another bonus is that it can bring back memories of growing up in Denmark to Danes who have relocated to the United Kingdom. Eating pickled herring in smørrebrød can conjure up a sense of nostalgia and make people feel as if they are back home in the country of their birth.
Author: Lily Sutton