This is a particularly fishy subject, which can float off into many directions (pardon the puns). Today, I will be explaining the nutritional side of things and trying to cover all the important questions about fish.
Fish is a very important part of a healthy diet. Fish and other seafood are the major sources of healthful long-chain omega-3 fats and are also rich in other nutrients such as Vitamin D and Selenium, high in protein, and low in saturated fat. There is strong evidence that eating fish or taking fish oil is good for the heart and blood vessels.
A Harvard study analysis involving hundreds of thousands of participants indicates that eating approximately one to two 3oz servings of fatty fish a week—salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, or sardines—reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 36%.
Unfortunately, fewer than one in five of us take that advice. Surprisingly nearly half of us eat fish only occasionally or not at all. Although some people may simply not like fish, the generally low consumption is likely also caused by other factors, including perceptions about cost, access to stores that sell fish, and uncertainty about how to prepare or cook fish.
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How much fish should you eat?
The most recommended weekly suggestion is 2-3 servings of fish per week; at least one of these portions should be an oily fish, which could be salmon, tuna or mackerel. The upper limit is four portions per week and if you are pregnant or breast-feeding this will change.
Why oily fish?
The reason we recommend oily fish is for the Omega-3 they contain. Omega-3 is an Essential Fatty Acid required for us to function properly and the body cannot produce it so we must obtain it from our diet; this is the same for many Amino Acids found in protein from fish.
In the average Western diet we need a good balance of healthy Omega-3 against unhealthy Omega-6, however around 95% of people consume a ratio which can cause a lot of health issues.
Sunflower, corn, soybean, vegetable and cottonseed oils are by far the worst sources of Omega-6, whereas butter, coconut oil, lard, palm oil and olive oil are all relatively low in Omega-6. As well as oils, Omega-6 is found in many processed foods, which are obviously best kept clear of anyway!
Confusingly, Omega-6 is also found in poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds but because they are wholefoods, with high nutritional value, they are ok to eat! Where possible ensure these good foods are being supported by the consumption of Omega-3 in your diet including buying Omega-3 enriched eggs, which are readily available now.
Benefits of Omega-3
Having a good balance of Omega-3 can help with many things such as:
- Improve general brain health (now, we could all do with a bit of that!); helping with depression and preventing deterioration diseases such as Dementia and just generally making us happier.
- Weight loss – it has been shown to help prevent cravings of some unhealthy foods.
- It can help with healthy joints and help prevent joint pain.
- Reduce inflammation which is generally caused by too much Omega-6 without enough Omega-3; this leads to a healthier circulatory system and heart health.
Are non-oily fish still good?
The difference between oily fish and non-oily fish is where they store their oils, whether it’s in their flesh or in their liver. So although they have lower or no Omega-3, non-oily fish still have other great benefits. They are a lean source of protein that is easy to digest by the body, helping build cells. This also makes it a great post-workout source of protein. A lot of fish are high in minerals such as Zinc, Iron and Calcium – all are essential to our health.
So what fish should you eat?
Studies suggest that smaller fish are best as they will carry less mercury and PCBs. Examples include:
- rainbow trout
Where is the best place to get fish?
Your best source will be a local fishmonger. They will have knowledge of where the fish has come from, so either wild caught or if it is farmed then it should come from a quality fish farm where they feed the fish the proper feed and not a cheap alternative.
Your local fishmonger should also source as direct from the boat that caught the fish as possible, thus ensuring a higher quality and less time between being caught and sitting on a display.
The Fresh Fish Shop in Haywards Heath prides itself for sourcing the majority of its fish directly from ports across the country, mostly from the South Coast and Peterhead, preferring fish caught by day boats where possible.
Their farmed salmon is from Loch Duart, which was the first Freedom Food RSPCA approved fish farm in the world, assuring unrivaled quality with a strong emphasis on low environmental impact farming.
So is fish & chips a good meal?
Well… YES AND NO!!!
I am sure many of you would love to convince yourself this is now a healthy meal, but deep-frying in unsaturated fats such as vegetable oil is a prime example of why a Western diet is so high in Omega-6.
BUT it just so happens that I have put together a healthy version of the Great British favourite and you can get it here today for FREE!
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The only thing I ask is that you let me know how you get on and if you think it’s as delicious as I do!