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The #1 Best Fish to Eat to Reduce Inflammation, Says Science

Most types of fish are good for reducing inflammation, but Mackerel is surprisingly the best.
FACT CHECKED BY Olivia Tarantino

Inflammation is a fascinating process because, on one hand, your body needs it to function and heal properly. But on the other hand, inflammation can turn chronic, and when it does, it can lead to serious diseases and conditions.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, acute inflammation occurs when you have an injury or illness and your immune system sends white blood cells to help. However, it can turn chronic as a response to things like prolonged injury, extra toxins in your body, or excess body weight.

Processed baked goods, fast food, and things with added sugar are popular culprits in increasing risk of chronic inflammation, but there are foods that have been known to have anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Some of the most helpful foods for fighting inflammation are fatty, oily fish, with the best anti-inflammatory fish being mackerel. Read more to learn why mackerel is the best choice to reduce inflammation, and for more healthy eating tips, check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, help lower cholesterol, and fight inflammation. The two most crucial omega-3s for these health benefits are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which are found in fish.

Fatty fish, like mackerel, are the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but you can also supplement with fish oil, krill oil, or cod oil pills.

According to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and trout contain the highest levels of omega-3s, with about 1-3.5 grams per serving. You can still find omega-3s in leaner fish like cod and sea bass, but the amounts are much lower, at around 0.1-0.3 grams per serving.

How mackerel can reduce inflammation

Mackerel has the highest content of omega-3 fatty acids among fatty fish, with about 2.5-2.6 grams of omega-3 fat in a 3-ounce serving (100 grams).

These fatty acids found in mackerel can help reduce chronic inflammation, and in turn, reduce your risk of serious disease.

One of the ways omega-3s reduce inflammation is by controlling your body's production of cytokines. These cytokine proteins can either become "pro-inflammatory" or "anti-inflammatory" in your body, and according to a study published in the journal Nutrients, omega-3s work to reduce your levels of the pro-inflammatory ones.

Along with cytokine proteins, your body has other multiple biomarkers that serve as telltale signs for areas of inflammation. For example, Scientific Reports states that issues such as diabetes, high levels of "bad" cholesterol (LDL), and C-reactive proteins are all common inflammatory biomarkers.

This report revealed that regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids led to lower levels of these biomarkers, especially in diabetic patients and those with cardiovascular disease.

The International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that because DHA and EPA are associated with lowering inflammation, a common risk factor for cardiovascular disease, that these fatty acids are linked to not only reducing the risk of CVD, but also coronary heart disease and cardiovascular mortality altogether.

On top of eating more mackerel to reduce inflammation, try adding some of these other 30 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods to your diet.

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Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha