The two types of healthy fish


Jan 13, 2016 by Aman

Many people cite fish as being a far healthier option to meat and cheese as a protein in our diets, and yet we know that many fish are contaminated by the pollution that humans caused in the first 100-plus years since the Industrial Revolution. The contaminants to watch out for, in particular, are mercury, and PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls – something that used to be found in electrical equipment during the 20th century. Manufacturers have not used these since the 1970s, but the pollution remains in our oceans, and certain fish and seafood are more prone to contamination than others.

Oily fish are the greatest

Omega-3 fatty acid is the key to why oily fish are the best you can eat. There is some evidence to show that omega-3 may reduce your chance of heart disease, and, in addition, these fish can give you a much needed boost of vitamin D in the winter months.

Whether you have kippers for breakfast occasionally, anchovies on your pizza, or a treat of deep-fried whitebait with aioli, all of these are oily fish that get some good nutrients into you, and they're not too high in contaminants, partly because they don't live a long time before being fished.

Other oily fish include salmon – but here, avoid the farmed salmon and stick to the wild. Farmed salmon is often treated with antibiotics, and they're often overcrowded, leading to parasitic and other health problems. If you eat tinned salmon, you can eat the bones – just mash them up with the fish and you won't even notice them. The bones add a bit of calcium and phosphorus to your diet, which is good.

Rollmops are sweet pickled mackerel; a somewhat acquired taste, but great with a Greek or green salad and fresh bread and butter. Sardines are also oily and you can eat the bones; a tin of sardines in tomato sauce broken up into a potato salad is a rich and delicious light lunch.

White fish can be healthy

Just because it's much lower in omega-3, white fish doesn't always get as much credit as a healthy option as oily fish. However, if it's an alternative to meat or chicken, it can still be a good thing, particularly as it is so low in fat.

Many people eat cod and haddock without any fuss; they are the key ingredients in a traditional fish pie (with mashed potato on the top), and shouldn't taste too “fishy” if they are fresh. They're relatively inexpensive as well, especially compared to meat, so if your wallet is feeling a pinch, white fish is a good alternative.

Many supermarkets stock alternatives to cod and haddock, partly as a response to the overfishing that these two species have suffered in the last few decades, and partly because the alternatives are less expensive. It's worth trying a few different types to see what you prefer, especially if you're quite new to fish.

Some alternatives include sea bass, pollock, plaice, and coley, and you can find them either fresh on the fish counter at the supermarket, or frozen into portions in the freezer section.