Fishy Business

Fish is undoubtedly delish, but other than taste, what kind of nutrition do these ocean wanderers provide? The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the leading body in health research in Australia suggests that we should all eat more fish. In fact, fish is considered to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet!

Image by Andy Thompson

Regular consumption of fish, that is, between two and three times per week, can reduce the risk of various disease and disorders, including childhood asthma, dementia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, eyesight and inflammatory conditions. Research has shown that fish can assist in the management of blood sugar levels, reduce blood clots and improve blood vessel elasticity, relieve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and autoimmune disease and contribute to the health of brain tissue and the retina in our eyes.

Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that our bodies cannot make themselves. Instead, we must get these EFAs from the foods we eat. The National Heart Foundation recommends Australians consume at least 500mg a day of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which can be achieved by consuming two to three serves of oily fish each week as well as supplementing your intake with fish oil supplements. If you don’t eat fish however, you can also get omega-3s from ground flaxseed, or flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil and soy oil.

What is considered an oily fish?
Fish types that contain at least 10% fat (of omega-3 oils) are considered an oily fish. These include salmon, sardines, herring, tuna and mackerel.

Be mindful of mercury
Consuming excess amounts of mercury can affect the nervous system, and may cause numbness in your fingers, lips and toes, developmental delays in walking and talking in children, muscle and joint pain and increase your risk of a heart attacks. Fish types that are high in mercury include shark, swordfish and marlin, ray, gemfish, ling, sea perch and southern blue fin tuna, including canned tuna.

Image by JPellgen

How can I cook my fish?
Fish can be cooked in a number of ways, but some healthy cooking methods include baking, grilling, poaching and steaming. Find a simple, no fuss recipe for salmon en papilotte here.

While there is nothing better than fresh fish, frozen fillets still contribute to your two to three serves per week. Consider consuming sustainable varieties, as overfishing has a significant impact on our oceans and wildlife. Check out Sustainable Seafood, which provides a guide as to which seafood species are not overfished.