Sep 20, 2019 / by Jon Bellis / No Comments

Eating more fish could improve your health and help you contribute towards saving the planet!

That’s a bold claim!

Yes, it is. I’ll admit, it’s a slightly embellished and extremely concise summary of the reams of information out there about fish. But there’s a good deal of truth in it too.

 

Could you become a pescatarian?

The number of people who are becoming pescatarian is on the rise.

Why might you become a fish eater? For a number of possible reasons:

  • Because of environmental concerns – the environmental impact of fish production is much less than that of livestock.
  • For sustainability reasons – fish could be a much more sustainable source of complete protein than meat.
  • To improve your carbon footprint – the energy it takes to feed livestock is far greater than that to feed fish. And we’ve all heard the stats on cow gas output!
  • For ethical reasons – debatable, but fish are less complex than mammals and perhaps exhibit less fear and pain.
  • For taste or texture preference.
  • To improve your health – fish have oodles of health benefits which we’ll look at in more detail below. What’s more, there are increasing concerns about the health risks of meat.
  • It can be very low hassle to prepare. We buy frozen fish and just pop it in the oven with some seasoning for 10 minutes. Easy-peasey!
  • There’s a lot more variety than with meat.

 

So what are the health benefits of fish?

Follow the link for a decent rundown of the health benefits of fish. It’s good because they’ve done the digging on the science. I’ll summarise here:

Protein

Fish is a great source of complete protein, rivalling meat for its amino acid profile.

Thyroid function

There’s plenty of iodine in fish. Iodine is associated with good thyroid health. Fish has this in common with other foods derived from the sea, such as seaweed.

The sunshine vitamin

Oily fish in particular is a good source of vitamin D. This vitamin is not that abundant in food and we derive most of our requirement from sunlight exposure. However, in the winter when we wrap up and the sun is not high in the sky, fish could be a good way to keep our levels topped up.

Other vitamins and minerals

Fish is be a good source of vitamins A, B, D and K. It also contains the minerals calcium, magnesium, iodine, selenium, zinc and iron. Zinc is associated with testosterone support and is particularly abundant in Oysters. That explains their well-know effect on people! Selenium is a powerful antioxidant.

It protects against heart disease, heart attacks and strokes

Regular fish consumption has been associated in numerous studies with a reduced risk of heart disease and associated ‘events’. Oily fish is considered especially beneficial due to the high Omega 3 content.

It’s good for your brain

Not only is it good for your brain’s health and longevity, but it can also reduce the risk of depression. In our article on mental health and diet, we go into more detail on this topic. In summary, the right balance of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids will help protect your brain from early degeneration and reduce your susceptibility to mental health disorders.

Other health benefits

Some other benefits are mainly associated with either the omega 3 or vitamin D content of fish and include:

  • Reduce the risk of you developing autoimmune diseases
  • Help to prevent you or your kids getting asthma
  • Protect your vision
  • Improve your sleep

You could also argue that eating more fish will reduce your meat consumption. Meat, as mentioned earlier, is increasingly associated with health concerns, particularly some cancers.

 

Do you want to make more sustainable choices?

I’m sure you’ll agree there are many health benefits of fish. But what about sustainability?

In this rather excellent rundown of every type of seafood you can imagine, you’ll see a sustainability rating for each. You may also note that:

  • The sustainability rating depends on the source and method of production.
  • Not all fish is yet sustainably produced.

Of those that do achieve a top sustainability rating, you have to be aware of the source, country of origin and so on. If you’d like the detail then follow the link and click the little arrows next to each fish to see more.

So which fish are sustainably produced?

I’ve scoured this article and can provide the following summary – you can currently obtain the following fish with top rated sustainability:

  • Cod
  • Haddock
  • European Hake
  • Herring
  • Pollock
  • Pink Salmon
  • Whitebait
  • Tilapia
  • Rainbow trout
  • Albacore and skipjack tuna

Some seafood also achieves a top sustainability rating

  • Clam
  • Abalone
  • Mussel
  • Farmed Oyster
  • Some prawns

Almost all of the fish in these two lists also achieve poorer scores, depending on the source and production methods. If you want maximum sustainability, we recommend you study the article to discover how to make the best choices.

 

Preparing Fish

Fish really doesn’t take long to cook, which reduces hassle and waiting time. But you can ruin it quite easily if you leave it cooking too long. It can also be a little bland, especially some white fish.

So what’s the answer?

Prepare it with tasty ingredients. As I mentioned, for everyday low hassle fish consumption we like to buy frozen fish, season it with those ready made seasonings and pop it in the oven with all the veg we eat.

But occasionally you might like to make a bit more effort. Below we provide a really tasty way to serve fish. We’ve chosen rainbow trout which is available with maximum sustainability rating.

 

Our sesame trout recipe

This is not only delicious, it’s a doddle to prepare and cook. Low hassle, quick, super tasty and sustainable – what more could you want?

What you’ll need

  • 4 trout fillets (approx. 150g each)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds

How to prepare and cook it

  • Preheat the grill.
  • Whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil and lime juice in a bowl.
  • Place the fillets on a baking tray.
  • Pour the mixture over the fillets and grill for 8-10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with sesame seeds and grill again for 2-3 minutes until the seeds are golden.
  • Serve with a herb salad.

Why we like this dish

Well, for a start it’s absolutely delicious. The sesame seeds add a bit of a crunchy crust. So you get the succulent fish with the crunchy crust. Fab!

The trout delivers all the health benefits outlined earlier whist the sesame seeds give you B vitamins and vitamin E, plus a collection of minerals. Crucially though, they also give you a good dose of omega 6 fatty acids. Combined with the omega 3 of the fish, that makes this dish the perfect brain food.

It’s really simple and quick to prepare – about 15 minutes tops.

Nutrition

One fish will give you 17g fat, 1g carbohydrate, 37g protein and 305 calories. We’ve chosen to have it with a herb salad but you could just as easily up the carb content and have a big pile of veg or some starchy carbs. Or have it with the salad and finish with some fruit.

 

The takeaway

Fish is good for you. There are far fewer health concerns than with meat. It’s easy to prepare and cook. It comes in a lot more varieties than meat. It delivers high quality protein just like meat. It’s sustainable, better for the environment, has a much lower carbon footprint and can be considered more ethical.

Is it time you ate more fish?

 

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