The Magic of Real Food …..Series…”FISH”

Today’s food is “FISH”

Over the next few days I will be looking at a range of healthy foods, the nutrition they offer, and how they affect our bodies in positive ways.

As most of you are now well aware I am against supplements/powders/pills and potions, especially those still on the market full of chemicals and bad substances that have been banned in other countries. My aim is to get people away from the charlatans and non-natural food products that are pushed and promoted as healthy whilst actually being bad for us, lining the pockets of the sellers whom have no regard for our health. (Source:http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/fish?open

Health benefits of eating fish.
Regular consumption of fish can reduce the risk of various diseases and disorders. Selected research findings include:

  • Asthma – children who eat fish may be less likely to develop asthma.
  • Brain and eyes – fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to the health of brain tissue and the retina (the back of the eye).
  • Cardiovascular disease – eating fish every week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood clots and inflammation, improving blood vessel elasticity, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood fats and boosting ‘good’ cholesterol.
  • Dementia – elderly people who eat fish or seafood at least once a week may have a lower risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Depression – people who regularly eat fish have a lower incidence of depression (depression is linked to low levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain).
  • Diabetes – fish may help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.
  • Eyesight – breastfed babies of mothers who eat fish have better eyesight, perhaps due to the omega-3 fatty acids transmitted in breast milk.
  • Inflammatory conditions – regular fish consumption may relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and autoimmune disease.
  • Prematurity – eating fish during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of delivering a premature baby.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
The recommended daily amount of omega-3 fatty acids from fish is 200–600mg and from plants it is 1–2g.

The following are approximate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids per 60g serve of varieties of fish:

  • Salmon (fresh Atlantic) 1,200mg
  • Smoked salmon 1,000mg
  • Canned salmon 500mg
  • Sardines 1,500mg
  • Trout (fresh rainbow) 350mg
  • Gemfish 300mg
  • Blue-eye, shark (flake), salmon, squid 250mg
  • Scallop or calamari 200mg
  • Sea mullet, abalone 170mg
  • Canned tuna 145mg
  • Orange roughy or sea perch 7mg.

The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish, rather than fish oil capsules.

Fish oil reduces risk of heart disease
Hundreds of studies have been done on fish or fish oils and their role in the prevention or treatment of heart disease. A review in the British Medical Journal recommends fish or fish oil supplements to prevent heart attacks, particularly in people with vascular disease. How omega-3 fats reduce heart disease is not known, but they are known to lower blood triglycerides and blood pressure, prevent clotting, are anti-inflammatory and reduce abnormal heart rhythms.

A word of caution on mercury.
While it is recommended to eat one to two fish meals a week, it is wise to avoid fish high in mercury. Excess mercury appears to affect the nervous system, causing: numb or tingling fingers, lips and toes; developmental delays in walking and talking in children; muscle and joint pain; increased risk of heart attack.

Fish high in mercury include shark, swordfish (broadbill) and marlin, ray, gemfish, ling, orange roughy (sea perch) and southern blue fin tuna. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, women planning pregnancy and children up to six years old should avoid these fish.

If catching and eating your own fish, don’t fish in polluted waters. Bottom feeder species, such as catfish, may ingest more pollutants.
Types of fish cuts
The types of fish cuts available include:

  • Fillet – the boneless flank of the fish.
  • Dressed – with head and fins (entrails, scales and gills are removed).
  • Steak – cross-sections taken from a dressed fish.
  • Gutted – whole fish with entrails removed.

Healthy ways to cook fish
Healthy ways to cook fish include:

  • Baking – make shallow cuts along the top of the fish. Put into a greased dish and cover with foil. Flavour with herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. Bake at around 180°C and baste frequently.
  • Shallow frying – dry and flour the fish. Place a small amount of oil or butter in the pan. Fry the fish at a medium heat.
  • Grilling – cut slashes into whole fish to help the heat penetrate the flesh. Place fish on a preheated grill. Baste frequently.
  • Poaching – not suitable for flaky varieties. Place fish in gently simmering stock. Whole fish should be placed in a pan of cold stock, which is then slowly brought up to a gentle simmer.
  • Steaming – put fish in a steamer or on a plate over a saucepan containing gently boiling water. Cover.
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