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Fin-Tastic Fish: Five Reasons to Cast Your Net and Enjoy More Fish

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Is fish good for you? 

If a healthy and balanced diet is a priority for you, fish should be part of your catch of the day. Loaded with a variety of nutrients, fish boasts a bounty of health benefits. Let’s dive in and explore why the American Heart Association recommends eating fish – whether fresh or frozen –  at least twice a week to help reel in your health and wellness, one food-loving fishy fiesta at a time. 

Power Up Protein

Protein is a food group which plays many important roles: from making enzymes and hormones to defending the body against illness and disease through the immune system and offering the building blocks for muscles. Fish like fresh hake and snoek are good sources of lean protein, meaning it provides protein while being low in fat  – a double win for our health.  

Nice ‘n Nutritious Nutrients

Fish is a treasure trove of nutrients like calcium, vitamin B2, vitamin D, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium to help keep us in tip-top shape. And this holds true for both fresh and frozen fish, and why including a variety of fish in your diet rounds up your nutrition. 

 The Sunny Side of Fish

Vitamin D, the new darling of nutrition, is a vitamin that we often fall short of. It’s well-known for bone health but did you know that vitamin D receptors are also found in gut, brain, breast, and nerve tissues? Scientists also think that a deficiency may increase our risks of autoimmune diseases, heart disease, cancers, and even help with mood regulation. Tinned fish like pilchards (where you eat the bones) and fresh and frozen salmon, tuna, and mackerel all serve up some vitamin D. 

My Oh My Omegas

Added to the vitamins and minerals, a standout nutrient found in fatty fish is omega-3s, healthy fats known to lower inflammation and blood pressure, and support heart health. There is also exciting research that omega-3s may help with depression, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, and dementia. Salmon, trout, pilchards, sardines, and mackerel all count as fatty fish (though the other fish like hake and snoek are still great fish options to feature on your plate). 

Wallet-Friendly Feast

Fish is a cost-effective protein compared to other animal proteins. Sure, certain types of fish are pricier than others, but there are plenty of affordable options too. Balance cost-effective tinned tuna or tinned sardines in the grocery aisle with fresh fish from the seafood counter. Buy fresh fish in bulk or on special to help stretch your grocery budget even further. 

The benefits of eating fish clearly far outweigh any potential (and very low) risks of toxin exposure when consuming the fish. So, whether you’re serving up salmon, cooking up hake, or enjoying a snoek braai, cast your net wide and pay the fresh seafood counter at Food Lover’s Market a visit to make fish a regular part of a healthy and balanced diet.  

Written by Monique Piderit, BSC, WITS; M.DIETETICS from Nutritional Solutions.

Easy Grilled Lemon and Caper Fish

4 fish fillets of choice e.g. hake, kingklip, salmon, tuna 

1 Tbsp canola/olive oil 

1 heaped tsp garlic 

¼ cup white wine or veggie stock 

1 Tbsp capers 

Juice and zest of 1 lemon 

Method: 

  1. Spray a frying pan with non-stick spray, then heat the oil. 
  2. Add the fish fillets and allow to colour on both sides. 
  3. Add garlic, and cook for a further minute. 
  4. Add white wine/stock, lemon juice, zest, and capers.   
  5. Season according to taste and serve with seasonal vegetables of choice.  

 

References 
  • Buttriss JL. Vitamin D: Sunshine vs. diet vs. pills. Nutrition Bulletin. 2015; DOI: 10.1111/nbu.12172. 
  • Chena, J., Jayachandranc, M.M Baia W., Xub, B. A critical review on the health benefits of fish consumption and its bioactive constituents. Food Chemistry. 2022. 369;130874. 
  • DiNicolantonio, James J., et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for the treatment of cardiovascular disease: are they beneficial or not? Open Heart. 2021;001648. 
  • Domingo J.L. Nutrients and Chemical Pollutants in Fish and Shellfish. Balancing Health Benefits and Risks of Regular Fish Consumption, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2016. 56:6, 979-988. DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2012.742985 
  • Rimm, Eric B., et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for mood disorders. The American Journal of Psychiatry. 2019. 176.8:623-624. 
  • Virtanen, Jyrki K., et al. Dietary proteins and protein sources and risk of death: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2019. 1462-1471. 
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