Fish is one of the most nutritious food available to mankind since prehistoric times. It is a high protein and low fat nutrient dense food which provides number of health benefits if regularly consumed. Fish is rich in omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as several minerals and vitamin including iodine , potassium, vitamin D and selenium.
Nutritional composition of fish
The nutritional value of fish vary according to location where it is harvested, the type of water, type of feed given, the cut and on the fish type . It also depends on the way it is cooked. The general overview of fish nutrition is given below;
Fish is a low calorie protein source, one serving of three ounce low fat fish such as cod contains less than 100 calories and high fat fish such as salmon, herring contains about 200 calories per three ounce.
Fish is enriched with all of the essential amino acids needed for healthy growth and development. A three ounce serving of fish provides 30-40% of the daily average proteins requirement.
Fish is generally low in fats. Low fat fish such as cod contains less than 5% and the fatty fishes such as salmon, herring and mackerel have no more than 15% of fat. A large proportion of fat found in fish are polyunsaturated, including omega 3 fatty acids which has many health benefits. Fish meat is typically low in saturated fats and cholesterol. A high fat fish contains as little as 100mg of cholesterol in one serving.
Vitamins and minerals
Fish is a rich source of many essential vitamins such as vitamin A, B and D which are needed for healthy skin, vision and bones. The minerals found in fish includes selenium, iodine, zinc and iron. Selenium act as a powerful antioxidant, zinc is needed for cell growth and immune system, iron is an essential element for blood production and iodine helps to regulate thyroid functions in human body.
Benefits of eating fish
Regular consumption of fish provides you with several health benefits, some of which are as follows ;
The fats found in fish are rich in omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Studies reveals that consumption of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish protects agains the development of cardiovascular diseases and helps to lower the triglyceride levels in blood.
One of the most important omega 3 found in fish is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Humans are unable to transform other fatty acids into DHA. So it is always essential that sufficient amount of DHA should be provided through diet. DHA supports brain development in both infants and adults. It play essential role in learning, memory, and behaviour. Regular use of fish by children promote healthy nervous system and better brain functions, more specifically cognitive and visual functions.
Fatty Fish is rich in vitamin D, which is an important nutrient for bone functioning and development. The use of fish in cold weather and in areas where there is not enough sunlight protects from bone deformities in young kids and osteoporosis in post menopausal women. The omega3 found in fish also reduces inflammation in arthritis.
Fish is rich in selenium and zinc. Selenium is power and antioxidants and contributes to the production of white blood cells which helps to fight with flu viruses. Zinc is an important nutrient for cell functions and immune system. Also the omega 3 found in fish helps to protect from the symptoms of cold and flu.
Recommended serving of fish
The recommended serving of fish is at least twice a week. Each serving should be at-least 3.5 ounces or the size of the deck of cards. Fatty fish like mackerel ,herring ,salmon, trout or tuna should be consumed at-least once a week.
Tips of cooking fish
fish can be cooked in variety of ways. It can either be fried , steamed, grilled , baked or cooked. Following are some tips that should be considered to make a healthy, nutritious and delicious fish.
- Always wash and pat dry fish before cooking.
- Do not overcook fish as it results in somewhat dry and tasteless meat.
- Baking is normally recommended for large whole fishes , bake fish for at least 25 -45 minutes in preheated oven at 350 degrees F.
- Shallow frying is a popular method for cooking smaller fish. Cook fish for 7-8 minutes from both sides depending on the thickness of the fish.
- Steaming fish is a healthy and heart friendly option. Place the fish marinated with lemon and seasonings in a steamer with boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes or until the the flakes are easily separated.
- Deep frying battered fish is one of the most traditional style of cooking fish. Always choose oil for frying with high smoke point . Sunflower, canola are good choices. Fry fish until golden from the top and flaked from the centre.