Fish or chorizo for your tapas?

It may, or may not, interest you to know that the word “tapas” means to cover and is believed to have originated from the Spanish practise of covering your sherry glass with a piece of bread, chorizo, or ham to protect the sherry between mouthfuls. It is also believed that the salted meats were favoured by publicans as they promoted thirst and more sherry drinking. Today tapas has broadened into including a range of snack foods and appetisers but new Spanish research has suggested all meats in a tapas are not created equal in terms of your health.

The study looked at 1000 Spanish adults and looked at the impact of consumption of fish, cured meat, and red meat on their health. The people involved were aged between 55 and 80 years. The study was done because although the classic Mediterranean diet has been shown to be very healthy, over recent decades people who live in the Mediterranean have been moving away from the traditional diet of the area. That has meant an increase in red meat and cured meat consumption compared to fish.

What these researchers found was that those people who had a higher fish to cured or red meat ratio in their diet (that is, they ate more fish than red meat) had lower blood sugar, meaning a reduced risk of diabetes. Those who ate more red or cured meats than fish however, had a generally higher weight and were more likely to be obese thus putting a greater strain on their heart.

Specifically the results showed that eating red and cured meats was associated with a higher risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease in general. Fish eaters also seemed to have longer life spans. This study was not of the type that can establish a cause and effect link but the association between fish consumption and good health outcomes for these Spaniards was certainly there and it makes sense.

The omega-3 fatty acids from fish have well established anti-inflammatory effects and a balancing effect on blood fats. Both of these actions are good for your heart. Muscle cells with high levels of omega-3 present are also more sensitive to insulin and that decreases risk of type 2 diabetes.

So if you want to do good things for your blood sugar, your heart, and your longevity then you should maybe give a fishy twist to your tapas and go easy on the chorizo.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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