Fish Consumption: A Review of Its Effects on Metabolic and Hormonal Health

Nutr Metab Insights. 2021 Jun 3;14:11786388211022378. doi: 10.1177/11786388211022378. eCollection 2021.


Dietary habits are a major determinant of the risk of chronic disease, particularly metabolic and endocrine disorders. Fish as a food group are a unique source of nutrients with metabolic and hormonal importance including omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, selenium, vitamin D, taurine and carnitine. Fish are also a source of high quality protein and have in general low caloric density. The impact of these nutrients on cardiovascular risk has been extensively reviewed, but the impact of fish on the broader field of endocrine and metabolic health is sometimes not sufficiently appreciated. This article aimed to summarize the impact the effect of regular fish consumption on conditions like the metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome and the menopausal transition, which are in and of themselves significant causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The review revealed that scientific evidence from food science, translational research, epidemiologic studies and interventional trials shows that regular fish consumption has a positive impact on thyroid homeostasis, facilitates maintenance of a healthy body weight, reduces the magnitude of age-associated increases in blood pressure, improves glucose homeostasis helping prevent diabetes and the metabolic syndrome, and has a positive impact on muscle mass preservation among the elderly. These effects are mediated by multiple mechanisms, only some of which have been identified. For most of these effects it holds true that the potential benefits are more substantial when baseline fish consumption is low.

Keywords: Fish; endocrine; hormones; metabolic syndrome; seafood.

Publication types

  • Review