Seven reasons to enjoy a Feast of the Seven Fishes this holiday season

Head-to-toe health benefits

In my family, we like to enjoy some quality, local seafood on Christmas Eve.  

This tradition stems from the “Festa dei Sette Pesci” or “Feast of the Seven Fishes.”  

The concept behind this feast actually dates back to the early Roman Catholic custom of abstaining from eating meat on the eve of certain holy days, including Christmas. 

But the Feast of the Seven Fishes is primarily an American holiday. Many Italian-American immigrants who settled in port cities—like Boston and my old hometown of Gloucester, Massachusetts—were fishermen. So, by preparing a seven-course seafood meal for the holidays, it made them feel closer to home. 

What those early immigrants might not have known, though, is that their fish feasts didn’t just make them feel good emotionally. Recent scientific research shows that eating fish and seafood has many physical and mental health benefits as well. 

In fact, there are seven key ways in which fish, fish oil, and shellfish can boost your health not only during the holidays, but throughout the entire year.  

That’s why I happily enjoy local seafood on many special occasions throughout the year. And now, after learning about this latest research, I hope you will also join me in this tradition… 

Seven health benefits from the seven seas 

Scientists have studied fish and shellfish’s effect on humans from literally head-to-toe. And there’s evidence that this bounty from the sea can improve health in myriad ways. Some of the most convincing research falls into the following categories: 

  1. Supplies key dietary nutrients. As you know, fatty fish and seafood like salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and oysters are top sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids—including EPA and DHA, which the body can’t make itself and must get from the diet and/or through supplementation.

In addition, all fish are excellent sources of vitamin D, calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. And, of course, fish and shellfish are loaded with protein.  

  1. Supports cardiovascular health. There’s substantial evidence that fish oil is useful to help prevent or treat cardiovascular disease. But in a new scientific article, two doctors from the University of Missouri argue that while there’s evidence that the omega-3s in fish reduce the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks and strokes, the same may not be true for the omega-3s found in fish oilsupplements.1  

However, after reading the article, I found several key flaws in their reasoning. (Remember, fish oil supplements are often attacked—but there’s more to each story.) 

First of all, the researchers examined studies that measured how fish oil supplements affect cholesterol and triglyceride blood levels. But, as I’ve pointed out many times before, looking at heart disease through the lens of cholesterol is a flawed and failed theory. Fish oil and omega-3s have a host of other benefits, such as reducing inflammation, that are critical for heart health and general health. 

Secondly, the researchers didn’t seem to take fish oil doses into account. 

I always point out (and seem to be one of the only “experts” doing so) that taking the right amount of fish oil is key for heart health. And that dose depends entirely upon how much (or how little) seafood you’re enjoying as part of your healthy diet.  

In fact, doctors would never think about not using the right dose of a precious prescription drug, but are truly clueless when it comes to correct and individualized doses of dietary supplements—especially for fish oil and omega-3s.   

As I’ve noted here before, even fish oil studies that use minimally adequate doses STILL show heart health benefits. Meanwhile, when researchers use ridiculously low, subtherapeutic amounts, the same benefits, unsurprisingly, aren’t observed. But that doesn’t discredit fish oils’ benefits—it simply highlights the importance of proper dosing (and, in turn, actually confirms the benefits) 

For instance, a large trial on fish oil and cardiovascular disease called ASCEND wasted millions of dollars (and a great research opportunity) because the researchers used a dose of fish oil that was obviously too low to clearly show an effect (1 gram). But the REDUCE-IT Trial found a 25 percent drop in heart disease with a more reasonable dose of 4 grams.2   

Plus, another trial called STRENGTH actually showed a 15 percent decrease in heart disease in people who took fish oil supplements, despite the fact that the researchers observed patients for a maximum of only 2.5 years. That’s nowhere near long enough to see the full benefits of fish oil (and a fraction of the time of most other studies that do show benefits).2 

The reality is that there are decades of clinical studies showing fish oil supplements lower risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths. Fish oil has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and hardening of the arteries. And it’s safe—unlike the statin drugs that many doctors are brainwashed into pushing onto their unsuspecting patients.   

Bottom line: There’s convincing evidence to take fish oil supplements (in the right, individualized doses—see the sidebar on page 3) to prevent cardiovascular disease. 

  1. Boosts longevity. Considering that fish oil is so beneficial for the heart, it’s not surprising that it also substantially increases life expectancy.  

In fact, a new study showed that higher levels of omega-3s in the blood boosts longevity by nearly FIVE years!3   

The researchers said just a 1 percent increase in omega-3 blood levels can reduce mortality as much as quitting smoking.   

The new study followed 2,240 people over the age of 65 for an average of 11 years. The researchers discovered that the more fish the study participants ate, the less risk they had from dying of any cause.    

  1. Fights depression. For years, research has linked the omega-3s in fish oil with a reduced risk of depression. A variety of studies have shown that depression is associated with higher levels of inflammation—and, of course, omega-3s are known inflammation fighters.

Plus, an interesting new British study shows that the omega-3s in fish oil can actually pass right into brain cell membranes, where they exert anti-inflammatory effects that help fight depression. 

The researchers looked at 22 people diagnosed with major depression. Participants took either 3,000 mg of the omega-3 EPA or 1,400 mg of the omega-3 DHA daily for 12 weeks. DHA and EPA were measured in the participants’ blood before and after treatment. Their depression symptoms were also assessed.   

Results showed that both EPA and DHA were associated with significant improvements in mood.  

In fact, the EPA group had an average 64 percent drop in depression symptoms. The DHA group’s response was better still, with a 71 percent decrease in symptoms. 

The researchers also noted that it’s unlikely these amounts of DHA and EPA can be obtained only by eating oily fish. So, they suggested fish oil supplementation alongside a healthy, balanced diet.  

  1. Wards off dementia and Alzheimer’s. For decades, people have referred to fish as “brain food.” And now, science has caught up to the popular lore—in fact, an archaeologist has published research linking early humans’ brain growth to their shellfish consumption.5 

About 200,000 years ago, a severe Ice Age descended upon the Earth. Much of the planet cooled down and dried out. Even the once lush plains of the African continent (where the human species is thought to have originated) experienced widespread drought and became a barren, desolate place.   

The study found archaeological evidence that some coastal-dwelling humans in South Africa dramatically changed their diets during this glacial period. Specifically, they went from eating plants, animals, and the occasional freshwater fish to regularly eating the abundance of saltwater shellfish that they could gather along the shore.  

The human brain also underwent tremendous growth during this period, which the study associates with the sudden abundance of the omega-3s found in this new marine diet. And as I briefly touched on above, shellfish also contain essential minerals required by the human brain—such as calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.  

These nutrients help neurons 
communicate with each other and help to improve blood flow throughout the body and brain. And other research shows that a decline in omega-3s in the brain is associated with an increase in dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cognitive problems, and memory loss. 

(To learn more about fish and shellfish’s role in brain health, check out my Complete Alzheimer’s Fighting Protocol. Call 1-866-747-9421 and ask for order code GOV3XC00.) 

  1. Strengthens bones and joints. Of course, everything’s connected in the body, so it’s not surprising that the omega-3s in fish have benefits for bones and joints, too. Not to mention the vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium that’s abundant in seafood.  

In fact, a new animal study found that DHA increased bone-mineral density and bone-mineral deposits.6 Researchers were interested to find that DHA increased the height of the growth plate at the end of the bones (the joints) by increasing the number and growth of the cells that make joint cartilage.   

This is the first study showing that DHA supports both bone-building and cartilage-building cells, resulting in healthier, stronger bones and joints. As a result, the researchers concluded that fish oil could be an effective option for optimal bone and joint health. 

  1. Promoting natural pain and arthritis relief. As I mentioned earlier, fish oil is a potent anti-inflammatory. And since joint pain and arthritis are both caused by inflammation, it makes sense that fish oil could help the millions of people suffering from these conditions every day. 

Indeed, one study found that people with neck and back pain who took fish oil found it to be so effective that they actually discontinued their prescription pain drugs.7  

Researchers gathered 250 adults with acute, chronic neck or back pain and asked them to take 1,200 mg (1.2 grams) a day of fish oil (which, as I mentioned earlier, is quite a low dosage).  

After an average of 75 days of taking fish oil, 125 of the study participants returned a questionnaire about their pain levels. These questionnaires revealed that 78 percent of the participants took 1,200 mg of fish oil daily, and 22 percent took 2,400 mg a day.  

A whopping 60 percent of those people said their pain improved during the study period, and 59 percent discontinued their prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Almost 90 percent of the participants said they would continue to take fish oil for pain relief.   

The researchers noted that these results mirrored other studies they had conducted showing that fish oil was as effective as ibuprofen at reducing arthritis pain. Plus, a new study showed that more frequent fish consumption reduces rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms…8  

Researchers gathered 176 people with RA and analyzed the frequency of their fish consumption during the previous year. They also assessed the participants’ RA disease activity by measuring C-reactive protein (CRP) levels—an important marker of inflammation.  

Results showed that the participants who ate fish two or more times per week had significantly lower RA disease activity compared with patients who never ate fish, or only ate it less than once a month. 

And there was a dose-response effect observed, too. Each weekly serving of fish reduced the participants’ RA disease activity by a significant 18 percent!   

So, during this holiday month, I highly recommend you eat some seafood—even if you don’t indulge in the Feast of the Seven Fishes. (Though, perhaps you’d like to give that a try this year, too! See the sidebar for more details.)  

And don’t forget to supplement with fish oil daily, using my personalized dosage guide. 

Finally, if you have a special holiday menu you enjoy preparing, I’d love to hear about it! Leave me a comment on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/DrMarcMicozzi) or e-mail me at feedback@drmicozzi.com. 

Supplement wisely with this individualized fish oil dosage guide 

If you eat fish every day, there’s no need to take fish oil supplements. 

If you eat fish four to six times a week, supplement with 1 to 3 grams of fish oil daily, containing 400-950 mg of EPA and 300-700 mg of DHA. 

If you eat fish one to three times a week, take 4 to 5 grams of fish oil supplements daily, containing 1,400-1,800 mg of EPA and 1,000-1,300 mg of DHA. 

If you don’t eat any fish, take 6 grams of fish oil daily, containing 2,000 mg of EPA and 1,500 mg of DHA. 

The seven fishes 

Each family’s traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes varies slightly, but offerings typically include the following fish and shellfish: 

  • Baccalà (codfish) 
  • Calamari (squid) fried, or in tomato sauce 
  • Fried smelts 
  • Mussels marinara 
  • Scungilli (conch) 
  • Shrimp 
  • Spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti with clam sauce) 
  • Stuffed clams 

I advise getting your fish and shellfish fresh from the seafood section of your favorite grocer. Or better yet, seek out a fresh seafood market if you live near the coast. As always, opt for wild-caught fish if you can, which has more nutrients than farm-raised fish. 

And if making seven different dishes sounds like too much, consider throwing together a few of your favorite types of seafood into one big pot to make one of my favorite meals, a traditional seafood boil. 

Sources:

1“Fish Oil Supplements for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease: The Jury Is Still Out: CON: Fish Oil is Useful to Prevent or Treat Cardiovascular Disease.” Mo Med. 2021;118(3):219-225.

2“The Flaws of Recent Omega-3 Clinical Trials Should Not Prevent Their Use.” Mo Med. 2021;118(4):322.

3“Using an erythrocyte fatty acid fingerprint to predict risk of all-cause mortality: the Framingham Offspring Cohort.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2021 Oct 4;114(4):1447-1454.

4“Long-chain omega-3 fatty acid serum concentrations across life stages in the USA: an analysis of NHANES 2011–2012.” BMJ Open 2021;11:e043301.

5“Pinnacle Point Cave 13B (Western Cape Province, South Africa) in context: The Cape Floral kingdom, shellfish, and modern human origins.” J Hum Evol. 2010 Sep-Oct;59(3-4):425-43.

6“Comparative Study of DHA with Different Molecular Forms for Ameliorating Osteoporosis by Promoting Chondrocyte-to-Osteoblast Transdifferentiation in the Growth Plate of Ovariectomized Mice.” J Agric Food Chem. 2021 Sep 15;69(36):10562-10571.


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