Yearning for a low fat, high protein meal?
Go for that steamed fish, in fillets or even in whole.
Want a versatile dish to share among diners of every taste and diet?
Let’s vote for fish then.
Omega-3 fatty acids, the “good fats” found in fish are popularly known as a brain food, are some of the main reasons why fish are becoming popular among the more health conscious.
When compared to the more standard, but a lot more “bad fats” loaded dinner menu contemporary, red meat, fish is understandably a more preferred request from the dinner table to the kitchen.
Nothing fishy about the health benefits
Nutritional research on the health benefits of fish offer a variety of health impacts on consuming fish on a regular basis, the standard being at least two servings a week. Eating fish regularly is scientifically linked to a reduction in health risks and chronic disorders such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, poor eyesight, prostate cancer, autoimmune diseases and even dementia.
Other health research have also claimed the benefits of eating fish regularly in reducing risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease because eating baked or broiled fish at least once a week helps preserve the ability of brain neurons that are responsible for memory and cognition.
Similarly, having a regular dose of fish in one’s diet helps develop brain capacity and boosts brain development especially among children.
Different values for different fish types
As with all things, not all fish are created equal, in so much the same way as not all of them look the same.
Nearly all varieties of fish contain good fats, vitamin D, riboflavin, phosphorous, calcium and remarkable doses of minerals, such as iodine, magnesium, iron and zinc. Certain types of fish are richer in some compounds and are thus more viable meal options depending on specific bodily needs and diet requirements.
The good news is that regardless of the diversity in fish varieties, there are just two main categories or types of fish: white and oily.
White fish can be easily identified through their colour, meaning those which have meat that are whitish or fair in colour. Compared to other fish types, white fish are relatively more lean and firm and contain less oil compared to the oily fish types.
White fish are usually saltwater fish with oil compounds concentrated mainly in the liver.
Examples of white fish are:
- Cat fish
- Red mullet
White fish are low in fat and rich in protein, but not much omega-3 healthy fats compared to oily fish. So if you only need protein, then by all means go for white fish.
If your goal for incorporating fish in your diet, however, is to get as much omega-3 as possible, opt for oily fish instead.
Unlike white fish, which has limited oil content, oily fish contains oil throughout their flesh and in the belly cavity. As a result, oily fish have higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and considerably more vitamins A and D content as well. However, oily fish are higher in energy and have more caloric amount.
Oily fish include small forage fish such as:
Larger pelagic varieties:
- Fresh tuna
Because the human body alone cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids, it is recommended that we source this good fat by consuming at least one or better yet two servings of oily fish every week.
Fish is a truly quality source of protein, and when compared to red meat, and even chicken and turkey it is very low in calories, it is really nature’s perfect food. Fish is truly healthy weight management’s best friend.
When preparing fish, regardless if they are of the oily or white type, it is important to also consider ideal cooking methods that will preserve the nutrients and good fats found in fish.
The gold standard is to avoid processed fish as much as possible. Fresh tuna, for example, loses its omega-3 fatty acids when processed and canned and cooking fish through the frying method.
It is best to bake, grill, or steam fish to preserve its nutrients and health benefits.
Poaching can also be used as a method, except for flaky oily fish types, which, are most likely to disintegrate when poached.
When frying is unavoidable, opt for shallow frying and use healthy varieties of cooking oil made from vegetables or grains, this includes, olive, coconut and canola oils.
It is important to note that fish sticks and fried fish is not healthy and is not considered whole food.