Fish is the world’s best source of omega-3. It’s a powerhouse of nutrients yet most of us don’t come close to eating enough. The challenge is often knowing what to choose; how to cook it and how it fits into a budget. This week I’ve trawled through the latest facts to school you on how to get more fish into your diet.
A recent Danish study showed that by replacing red meat intake with fish, Danes as a whole population would gain 7000 healthy years of life annually. Fish is high in protein, zinc, selenium, Vitamin A, D and omega-3. Consuming one to three serves of 250g of fish weekly will fight diabetes, dementia, stroke, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, autoimmune and cardiovascular disease.
People who eat fish are leaner; have higher IQs and superior mental health. As we get older, eating fish prevents deterioration of our eyesight. Breastfed babies of Mothers who eat fish two or more times a week have better vision too. Children who eat fish regularly are less likely to develop asthma and Mothers who eat fish during pregnancy have a lower incidence of premature birth.
Numerous pollutants make their way into our food and fish is no exception. Fish that live longer and predator fish are higher in mercury. These include swordfish, marlin, ray, gemfish, ling, orange roughy and southern fin tuna. Healthy adults should have no reason to scale back their fish unless they’re pregnant though. The best approach is to eat a variety of different seafood as the benefits far outweigh the risk.
Fresh and canned fish have roughly the same nutritional value although fatty fish contain a greater amount of beneficial nutrients. Canned fish can also have substantially more sodium. Choose fish in spring water over brine and remember that oil and flavoured canned fish usually contain more salt. Look for less than 400mg of sodium per 100g. Canned fish is generally cheaper and has a longer shelf life if you’re on a budget.
Chunky canned tuna is higher in mercury than light cans of tuna which use skipjack. The actual amount of fish in oil or water can be anywhere from 60 to 93 percent so check your labels. To make a sustainable choice look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logos on cans and avoid flake, tuna, swordfish and dory which are all endangered fish.
Australians tend to consume large oceanic fish like shark, tuna and farmed salmon and prawns. Salmon is one of the most nutrient dense fish, but prawns are on the lower end. Mackerel, sardines, herring, bream, oysters, mussels and anchovies are rated very high from a nutrition and sustainability perspective. These are your fish of choice.
Most people pike when they think about cooking seafood. Grilling your fish in light olive oil; poaching it lightly covered with water; steaming it in the microwave or throwing it in foil and into the oven is easy. Your fish can be done within minutes and a squeeze of lemon will complete it perfectly.
Fish is delicious alongside a fresh salad or tossed in it. It’s fantastic in casseroles, pasta and tacos. I always make a point of ordering grilled fish when I’m in a restaurant and I grab takeaway, seafood sushi for lunch. Try baking frozen fish as a step toward grilling fresh fish. Take canned sardines or salmon as a snack to work or grill a cheese and salmon sandwich.
We cod all do better when it comes to eating more fish. Create a habit of including a variety of fresh, canned and frozen fish into your weekly meals and you will start to look and feel better. Start with something you like and then any fin is possible.