From sushi to baked salmon, fish offers a great source of essential nutrients and can be quite delicious.  There are many healthy fish recipes available and both recipe books and the internet are great places to look. There are recipes that involve grilling, frying and baking fish.  Some other methods of preparing fish are raw – sushi or sashimi, marinated in acid (ceviche), where the acid causes the proteins in the fish to become denatured. Whatever method one, fish offers great benefits to one’s health.  On top of that, fish is often considered to be very delicious and goes well as the main part of several dishes. And for you crash dieters out there, fish is a major staple of high-protein plans like the 17-Day Diet and the Dukan Diet.

There are countless fish recipes one can discover.  This is due to the fact that fish has been part of people’s diet’s from the earliest days of recorded history.  It also comes as no surprise that fish recipes can be found in different cultures, all over the world.  Some of the most commonly eaten fish include Trout, Salmon, Tuna, Cod, Snapper, Mahi Mahi and Halibut.

Salmon is often among people’s favorite types of fish.  It has a distinctive pink hue to it and it also has a flavor that is not found in other fish.  People prepare it raw, like in sushi, but other and more common methods include baking, grilling, frying and smoking it.  Smoked salmon is actually considered to be quite a delicacy by some and offers a completely unique flavor that is loved by many.

Along with salmon, tuna is considered to be among the healthiest varieties of fish.  It has only 0.6 % fat! Halibut is also a low-fat fish, and the Atlantic and Pacific varieties are leaner than Greenland Halibut.

Fish, like chicken and turkey, is often eaten instead of red meat, as it is an excellent source of high quality protein while having a minimal level of fat.  It is also filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as vitamin D and B2.  Other great nutrients that are found in fish are calcium and phosphorus and minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, potassium and magnesium.  Detailed below are the many excellent health benefits of fish:

  • Protein: Absolutely essential to the proper function of the body, protein is made up of smaller amino acids.  The body uses protein to build and repair tissues in the body and extra protein is used for energy.
  • Calcium: Calcium is used by the body to build and maintain bone structure.  It is necessary for life and especially important as we age and our bones begin to deteriorate.
  • Vitamin A: Best known for its role in strong visual function, vitamin A is required by the eyes for both low-light and full-color vision.  It also plays a role in proper hormone function in our bodies.
  • B1 (thiamine): As with all B vitamins, B1 helps the body to convert food into energy.  It plays a crucial role in certain metabolic reactions and is needed to make adenosine triphosphate (or ATP) which is used as energy by every single cell in the body.
  • B2 (riboflavin): Also helping with the conversion of food into energy is vitamin B2.  B2 is needed in order to process amino acids and fats and to activate vitamin B6 and folic acid.
  • B3 (niacin): This vitamin helps in releasing the energy attained from food and is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates.
  • B5 (panthenic acid): Known as the “anti-stress” vitamin, B5 plays a vital role in the secretion of hormones and helps to keep a healthy balance in the body.  It is used in the creation of lipids, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones and hemoglobin in the blood.
  • B6 (pyridoxine): Considered to be the master vitamin in processing amino acids, B6 helps the body to take apart amino acids and make essential brain chemicals such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine.
  • B9 (folic acid): Often referred to as folic acid, or folate, B9 is crucial to the production and maintenance of new cells in the body.  It can help prevent birth defects in the spine and brain.
  • B12 (cobalamin): This vitamin mainly supports proper brain and nervous system function along with the production of blood.
  • Omega-3 fatty acid: Playing a role in both healthy brain function and normal growth and development, omega-3 fatty acid is considered to be extremely healthy and necessary for our bodies.

Can there ever be too much of a good thing?
Fish is universally known as a healthy food that contains much of the nutrition our bodies require.  However, there are issues to be aware of. In every single type of fish exists a type of mercury called Methylmercury.  The consumption of too mercury is called Minama Disease, named after the city, in the Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, where it was first discovered in 1956. A chemical factory released vast quantities of mercury into many bays near villages.  The people in the villages ate the fish from those bays and many became seriously ill, lost motor neuron and brain function or died over a period of several years. Other studies have shown that mothers who frequently eat fish with moderate mercury content still had children with slight decreases in the ability to learn, lowered language skills and attention and/or memory loss.

Its worth noting that the FDA says you can eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury, such as shrimp, tilapia, red snapper, salmon, pollack, and catfish. Swordfish, tilefish, and shark have the highest mercury, so should only be eaten sparingly.

How do I make them healthier?
There are many steps one can take in making fish recipes healthier.

  • Low mercury: Choosing fish that is lower in mercury levels is very important, especially if you eat fish every other day or more frequently.
  • Avoid fried fish: Grill, BBQ, poach, steam – there are lots of other healthy alternatives.
  • Add veggies: The recommended intake is between 20 and 38 grams of total fiber per day. On average, Americans consume 14 g per day – and most don’t get enough. Add another vegetable dish to your fish dish – most vegetables are excellent sources of fiber.

Fish provides many excellent health benefits and it is a highly recommended part of one’s diet. Choose grilling, poaching and steaming to make it healthier. If you are pregnant or if you have a baby, moderate how much low mercury fish you eat and feed to your child, and only eat high mercury fish sparingly.

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