Benefits of Haruan fish – Old wives’ tale or scientific fact?

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You have probably heard your mum or grandma asking you to slurp down your haruan fish soup after a surgery. That’s because they often contain more than a grain of truth. Take the one about “An apple a day keeping the doctor away,” for example. Well, everyone knows that fresh fruit is packed with flu-fighting vitamin C, which is great at preventing all kinds of illnesses, so munching on an apple on a regular basis makes sense. Then there’s the one that every kid knows. “Eat up your fish. It’s brain food.” Well, the evidence on that saying is a bit sketchier. However, according to Dr. Ahmad Faroukh Musa, from the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University, Malaysia, a fish diet does make a huge difference. But the biggest beneficiaries aren’t children. They are people who have just had heart surgery!

Local fish performs a medical miracle

It’s not just any old fish either. The one that works best is the Channa Striatus. Or, as it is more commonly known in Asia, the Haruan fish. “It has long been ‘known,’ although without any actual evidence, that patients who eat Haruan after surgery tend to heal better and faster. To find out why, we conducted a scientific study on wound healing after coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery,” said Dr Musa. The study, which included a randomized controlled trial, looked at whether patients who were given Haruan fish extract in capsule form healed better and faster, than those who received a placebo. And the results were stunning. “It turns out that grandma was right. The Haruan extract accelerated the speed with which wounds healed significantly. What’s more, the extract has a marked anti-nociceptive effect. Which means, it helps to block out pain, so the patient is more comfortable and less stressed, so they recover faster,” said Dr Musa.

What is Haruan?

Haruan, also known as the snakehead fish, is a freshwater carnivore. Which means that it eats other, smaller fishes and sometimes even frogs. And since it is a freshwater fish, you can find it in lakes and small rivers, streams or creeks. It can also be farmed, although that isn’t as popular in Malaysia as farming, say, Keli or Tilapia. But, after the Monash University study, that could change if-and-when Haruan extract is commercialized for nutraceutical applications.

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