Catch of the day – your fishy questions answered

21 July 2017 | Healthy living

Sarah is a qualified nutritionist and a member of World Cancer Research Fund’s Health Information team. Follow her on Twitter @SarahJ_wcrfuk

Why should I eat fish?

Fish is a good source of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals, and is low in saturated fat, which makes it a good alternative to red meat.

As part of a healthy diet, we should eat at least two portions (about 140g each) of fish a week, including one of oily fish such as salmon, trout, fresh tuna, mackerel or sardines.

But isn’t fish really expensive?

The cost of fish is often given as a reason for avoiding it. However, with a wider range of fish now available in supermarkets, there should be something to suit every budget.

And don’t forget to look in the freezer section – frozen fish can be great value.

How do I cook it?

For many people, fish means cod – battered, deep-fried and served with a portion of chips. However, there are so many healthier ways to cook fish.

Visit the recipes section of our website for lots of simple, healthy and delicious fish dishes to try.

What is white fish?

White fish includes cod and haddock, but also more sustainable species like pollack, basa, hake and tilapia.

White fish is naturally low in fat, but cooking methods can increase the fat content – it’s best to steam, bake or grill your fish rather than fry it, or serve in breadcrumbs.

What is oily fish?

Oily fish is rich in long-chain omega-3 fats, which are thought to have lots of health benefits including preventing heart disease and helping babies’ nervous systems to develop.

Oily fish is also a good source of vitamin D and some, like whitebait, tinned salmon, sardines and pilchards, also contain small edible bones that provide calcium and phosphorus, which are needed for our bone health.

What about tinned tuna?

Tinned tuna doesn’t count as an oily fish because
 a lot of the oil is lost during processing.

Despite this, tinned tuna in spring water is a healthy choice as it’s low in fat and salt, and is a good value source of protein that you can keep in your kitchen cupboard for a quick and easy meal.

How much fish should I eat?

Most white fish is safe to eat as often as you like, but there are recommendations about the maximum amount of oily fish you should eat.

Because oily fish can contain low levels of pollutants, the advice is to eat no more than four portions of it each week. For women who are pregnant, trying to conceive or are breastfeeding, the advice is a maximum of two portions a week.

Swordfish (plus two types of white fish – shark and marlin) contains more mercury than other types of fish, so all people are advised to eat no more than one portion a week. These fish should be avoided completely if you’re a child or a woman who is pregnant or trying to conceive.

If you eat a lot of fish, or are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding, check with your GP or NHS Choices for full details of the current advice.

Sarah Drabble | 21 July 2017