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Lucy Jones Chats All Things Fish

Fish and shellfish are great sources of lots of different nutrients including high quality protein, potassium, calcium, selenium, niacin, iodine and in the cases of oily fish; zinc, iron and long chain omega 3 fatty acids.It’s this plethora of nutrients and benefits that has led to official guidance that a healthy balanced diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish. So what counts as a portion? Each portion of fish should weigh about 140g or be roughly the size of a cheque book. Despite three quarters of the UK being worried about their health, a survey carried out by Seafish found that 66% of adults in the UK aren’t eating enough fish. Fish is in fact a great element in your diet to help keep your body in good working order and: helps maintain a healthy heart helps to lower risk of diabetes and Alzheimer’s it contributes to healthy skin, hair and nails the maintenance of normal vision and brain function helps to give us a better night’s sleep. Both iodine and those long chain omega 3 fatty acids are essential for our brain health and cognition throughout our lives, whilst omega 3s also help to keep our hearts healthy. Nutrients such as zinc keep our skin, nails and hair healthy. It’s not just what fish contains that is beneficial, it’s also what it doesn’t contain. Most of us don’t realise that we’re eating far too much saturated fat – men have a particularly high intake thanks in part to eating too much red and processed meat. Replacing some of our more traditional dinner time meals like sausage and mash, lasagne or even chilli con carne with fish dishes can help us to reduce how much red meat we eat and will also reduce our intakes of saturated fat, as well as ensuring we’re bringing all of the benefits to our bodies that eating fish brings, from a healthier heart to better brain function. Canned tuna in brine or spring water contains only 0.3g of saturated fat per 100g where 100g of grilled pork sausages contains over 26 times more, packing in 8g per 100g and filling 40% of a women’s maximum recommended daily intake. Sometimes we all need some hints and tips to help us make healthy choices so here are my top tips for eating more fish: Preparing fish: I talk to lots of people about why they don’t eat enough fish and find that many don’t like preparing or cooking fish. There are lots of ways round this including asking the fishmonger to fillet the fish for you. Don’t forget to pick their brains whilst you are there about the best ways to cook it too. Frozen and canned: These fish products offer more ways to avoid the prep, and offer the health benefits of fish without the fuss, mess or time. These make excellent sources of ‘fast’ food – for example, just add your favourite tinned fish to seeded toast and sliced tomatoes for a balanced, protein-rich meal in seconds. Keeping costs down: Lots of people consider fish very expensive. Fish varies massively in price and choosing less popular types can reduce the cost a lot. For instance, Basa fillets are half the price of Sea Bass in supermarkets and make a delicious alternative. Your fishmonger can help you to identify good value fish to choose. Sustainability: Lots of people worry about sustainability and this is something we should all take seriously. Choosing more sustainable fishes will help to protect our oceans. Use the www.goodfishguide.org to help guide your choices. Plan ahead: To make sure you’re going to fit in your two portions of fish each week, write down your meals for the week ahead. It’s more efficient when you come around to shopping and puts your mind at rest that you’ve had your recommended intake for the week! Recipe inspiration: If you are struggling for inspiration, know that fish are versatile and can be used in so many ways from quick snacks like mackerel pate on toast to pizza toppers like anchovies through to family friendly meals like homemade fish burgers and salad, pasta bakes and fish pie. For more ideas, check out www.fishisthedish.co.uk

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