Greetings from England-where fish and chips originated!
While many people around the world have just finished their weekly Friday fish obligation in honor of Lent, consumption of fish beyond Lent has many health benefits. Unlike other animal protein sources, fish contains heart healthy fats known as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory nutrients, and they are particularly recognized for their heart health benefits. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends consuming fish twice per week as part of a heart healthy eating plan.
While fried fish is a wonderful treat, the extra calories and fat that get absorbed from the delicious deep fried batter (not to mention the irresistible chips/French fries) can quickly sabotage any reasonable health benefits one may hope to derive from eating fish. Healthier preparation options include grilling, baking, and poaching.
Wild-caught fish is more environmentally friendly than farmed-fish, and do not contain contaminants that are often a by-product of farm-raised fish.
It’s also important to avoid or limit certain species of fish that are high in mercury. This is particularly important for children as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
High-mercury fish to avoid include:
Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico)
If you’re not a big fan of cooking fish, canned fish should not be ruled out. Canned fish is convenient and economical. It can be used on salads and sandwiches, or enjoyed plain. If the thought of canned fish brings back childhood memories you would prefer to leave behind, try being a little more open to the idea. Canned fish has come a long way over the last few decades, with gourmet varieties for all types of palates. You may also want to consider checking out Vital Choice-a company specializing in sustainable wild fish at www.vitalchoice.com.
Whether or not you celebrate Lent, everyone can benefit from decreasing saturated fats from other animal food choices and replacing them with sustainable fish choices. Vegetarian options of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flax meal, and chia seeds.
Finally, for those who prefer to take fish-oil supplements, be aware that not all supplements are created equal. Unfortunately, because supplements in the United States aren’t well regulated, make sure to only purchase supplements that have been USP verified. Supplements labeled as such have undergone stringent requirements that provide assurances of product wholesomeness. This is especially important for fish oil supplements, where mercury contamination is of concern.
Now-time for me to do some more UK culinary research-I think I see a pub in my future.