Fish should be a regular option on your family’s menu as it’s a super-healthy source of vital nutrients such as proteins, polyunsaturated (good) fats and a variety of vitamins and minerals.
Fish is a great source of lean proteins
Proteins, which are made up of amino acids, are necessary for growth, maintenance and the repair of your cells. Fish is a healthy source of protein and it’s naturally lower in saturated (bad) fat than poultry or beef. White fish such as hake, kingklip and sole are ideal choices as they are all very low in fat, cholesterol and sodium (salt). Even the ‘fatty’ types of fish are still moderate in fat and very low in saturated fat.
Fatty fish are filled with good fats
You need fat in your diet to provide essential fatty acids that your body can’t produce. Fatty fish such as pilchards, salmon, fresh tuna, sardines and mackerel are excellent sources of these essential fats, particularly omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids help to:
- reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke
- improve cholesterol levels
- slow the build-up of fatty material on the inner walls of blood vessels
- lower blood pressure
- prevent blood clots from forming.
Fish is a valuable source of vitamins and minerals
The vitamin and mineral content of fish varies between species, but fish is generally a good source of the B-vitamins and fatty fish also provides vitamins A and D. Canned fish with edible bones, such as pilchards, mackerel, salmon or sardines are also rich in calcium – good for building and maintaining healthy bones throughout life. Fish is also a valuable source of other minerals such as phosphorus, potassium and magnesium, and it also contains trace elements such as iron, iodine, copper and zinc.
Getting the goodness of fish into your diet
- Choose fish that is fresh by ensuring that it has a pleasant sea smell, but isn’t strongly fishy. The flesh needs to be firm and shiny and the eyes bright and not sunken.
- Include fish, especially the fatty varieties, at least twice a week as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
- Use healthy cooking methods such as baking, poaching, steaming or grilling instead of frying — limit the intake of battered, deep-fried fish to the bare minimum.
- Use herbs and spices to flavour the fish instead of high-fat sauces. A little salt, pepper and lemon juice will reveal the delightful flavours of our scaly friends.
- Substitute some of your meat or chicken dishes with fish – grill or braai snoek or kingklip instead of steak or add chunks of salmon or hake to salads instead of diced chicken. Try a fish curry recipe instead of the ‘same-old’ beef or chicken curry recipe.
Get hooked on the goodness of fish and enjoy its many health benefits!
Photo by Grace