These days people eat fish in their droves. But how healthy is fish really, and are there any negatives we should be aware of? Do you know what to look for when you buy fish? And why is a small fish healthier than a big fish? Interesting questions, right? Reason enough for me to want to write a blog post about it.
Is Fish Okay?
Of course! Fish is very healthy for the human body, particularly the fatty varieties. Fish often contain a lot of fatty acids that are great for concentration, memory, and joints. They also help to regulate blood pressure, and can contribute to avoiding vascular and heart diseases. Fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and have a great many benefits for patients who suffer from fybromyalgia and Alzheimer’s. In addition, fish contains a lot of protein. Animal protein contains the amino acids that our bodies need on a daily basis. Research has shown that these are very important for a healthy immune system. As long as you’re not vegetarian, there is a lot to gain from eating some meat, fish or chicken on a daily basis. Low fat cheeses and eggs are also great sources of protein.
Fatty and Non-Fatty Fish
Generally it is accepted that it’s healthy to eat fish at least twice per week. I would add to this that it’s best to eat fatty fish once, and non-fatty fish a second time. Fatty fish contain more omega-3 than their skinny cousins, but non-fatty fish contain more protein. Non-fatty fish are cod, sole, and pollock, amongst others. Examples of fatty fish include herring, mackerel, eel, and salmon. Beware: farmed salmon contains less omega-3 than wild salmon (and has been found to contain far greater quantities of toxins). Dutch herring is one of the healthiest types of fish you can eat (and it’s one of my favourites, of course!)
What Should You Look Out for When You Buy Fish?
Always buy fresh fish. Fresh fish will not contain any unhealthy additives. If you have a good fishmonger nearby, they should be able to tell you where the fish was caught. Fresh fish is, unfortunately, expensive. This is why many people prefer to buy frozen or canned fish, which are also easier to stock up on. Of course we all have days where we have too much to do, and tuna from a can will seem like a much easier option than hunting down a fresh alternative. It happens, but read the labels on canned and frozen products closely!
- Have they added salt and sugar to the product? Don’t buy it, because you do not want to be consuming more than you need to.
- Which logos are shown on the packaging? Is the fish caught in a sustainable way? Is there any proof that it has been caught without harming the ecosystem of the sea? There are many standards to which fisheries are held, and an abundance of certificates and logos. These can be confusing, but it is worth reading up on which are legitimate.
- Canned fish is often processed with water, sunflower oil, or olive oil. Do not buy fish in sunflower oil – it contains omega-6, which can actually cause and worsen inflammation in the body. If you still have a bottle of sunflower oil in the cupboard, then listen to Auntie Leonie and throw it straight in the bin!
Eat Small Fish
The smaller the fish, the healthier it is. How is this possible? It has to do with the pollution and contamination of the sea. Industry has been polluting Earth’s waters for years, particularly with metals like cadmium, mercury, lead, and tin. These metals find their way into the food that fish eat but cannot be processed by their digestive systems. Small fish are eaten by bigger fish and they, in turn, are eaten by even bigger fish. Residue of these harmful metals increase as you go higher up the food chain. The biggest fish contain the highest quantity of mercury, for example. In this respect, the least healthy fish is, therefore, tuna. But tuna is delicious, and a great source of protein, so don’t feel that you need to give it up all together! Eat it occasionally, but perhaps look for ways in which you might substitute tuna for smaller fish like anchovies, shellfish, or sardines in your recipes.
A great quantity of fish is farmed, of course. The three most popular farmed breeds are tilapia, pangasius, and perch. These are often very cheap. They are nice, but certainly not healthy. The food they are fed contains growth hormones, which are not at all healthy for the human body. The pangasius is the least healthy of the three breeds. These catfish come from Vietnam, often from heavily polluted rivers – the kinds of rivers that are used by factories to dump industrial waste.
Pollock is Healthy, and Cheap!
A healthy and cheap breed of fish, pollock is cod’s cousin and it’s just as delicious. Furthermore, it’s a great alternative to cod if you are worried about the damage we are doing to the environment. It is often a little less white than cod, which means that some companies will add food colouring. This is something to beware of when you buy pollock. It often gets used in a variety of fish products, such as surimi, the small pink crab sticks. These are quite delicious, but frequently do not contain any crab at all and are packed with additives, colourings and flavour enhancers that make them quite unhealthy. If you fancy some crab, and you can afford it, buy the real thing.
I hope that I have convinced you that fish is very healthy for you; full of omega 3 and very versatile.
Want o be healthier, look younger and stay slim? And above all enjoy eating delicious food? Have a look at my 12 week healthy eating plan that will help you to reach an optimum in your health, fitness and waistline. For more information go HERE
To better health,