Info feature Fish: Healthy Fish – A Taste Of The Sea
Fish is an important part of our diets as it is high in fatty acids, protein and vital substances. Salt water and fresh water fish make the most beautiful, summery dishes with that essential bit of vitamin sea. Learn more about it in our info feature fish by Christina Wiedemann.
Info feature fish: Healthy fish – a taste of the sea
Fish plays a significant role for our meal plan. The particular value of its meat lies in the fatty acids that are healthy for the heart, the easy digestible proteins and the high amount of vital substances. Also, the fish is culinarily convincing – whether it comes from freshwater or saltwater, the enormous variety of fish delights every taste bud.
Always a good catch
Fish meat contains valuable ingredients that significantly contribute to the health. Especially important are the omega-3 fatty acids: The unsaturated long-chain fatty acids are mostly contained in sea fish from cold waters, like salmon, herring and mackerel. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids and vital since the body can’t produce it by itself.
The fish oils impress with a bunch of healthy effects: They improve the blood flow, counter the hypertension and protect against cardiovascular diseases. They also keep the vessels flexible since omega-3 fatty acids counter inflammations in the joints. Furthermore, they lower the unhealthy LDL cholesterol and the overall cholesterol level and have a beneficial effect on the immune system.
Also, fish meat supplies easy digestible proteins. The fish protein has a balanced composition of the protein elements and can therefore be easily converted into body protein. Other advantages are the big amounts of minerals like iodine in sea fish as well as B vitamins, vitamin A and vitamin D that is good for the bones. The fish species with the highest amount of vitamin D are salmon, halibut, sardine and herring.
The German Association of Nutrition (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung) recommends that one to two meals per week contain fish. It should be eaten steamed, stewed or cooked in foil, so it keeps its positive ingredients.
Buy fish responsibly
Because of overfishing, most fish are not caught in wild waters anymore but cultivated in aquaculture. Fish that are bred in these fish farms have a lower amount of omega-3 fatty acids than their wild relatives. They lack of natural sources of food like algae and plankton in order to produce omega-3 fatty acids. If you prefer fish that was caught in the wild, you should choose fish from ecofriendly fishing to preserve the stocks. In trade, ecofriendly products are marked with the MSC label. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an independent and charitable international institution that developed environmental standards for sustainable fishing and fish farming. On the website www.msc.org, you find information on the available MSC products.
Next to sustainable fishing, a responsible aquaculture, i.e. ecofriendly fish farming, is important. Therefore, the WWF established the ASC label, a sustainability seal for aquacultures: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/businesses/transforming_markets/mti_solutions/certification/seafood/aquaculture/
The ASC guidelines are not as strict as the guidelines for organic farmed fish that were developed by the organic farming associations Naturland and Bioland. Naturland awards seals for both aquaculture and wild fish: http://www.naturland.de/en/naturland/what-we-do/naturland-seafood.html
If you make the right choice, you not only save endangered fish species but also the environment. Before you lose the overview with all the seals, it’s useful to orientate towards the fish and the fish species. A look at a fish adviser can make the decision easier: http://wwf.panda.org/how_you_can_help/live_green/out_shopping/seafood_guides/ & http://www.greenpeace.org
The freshness is decisive!
The long-chain fatty acids that are contained in fish meat are very valuable for nutrition but they are also very sensitive and go bad quickly when the fish is stored for too long. They are the main reason why fish becomes rancid. The influence of air and light contribute to it as well. In order to get fresh fish of high quality on your plate, the following tips for shopping and storing fish are particularly useful: Fresh fish has clear eyes, light red gills, firmly flat and shiny scales as well as elastic meat. Fresh fish has a pleasant and fresh smell of the sea and sea breeze, in contrast to older fish that has an obtrusive smell of fish.
It is recommended to process the fish on the day of the purchase, but not later than the next day. For storage, take the fish out of the packaging, put it in a bowl, cover it and put it in the coldest part of the fridge. If you buy a whole fish, let the trader make it ready to cook and, if necessary, fillet it. Take frozen fish out of the packaging and let it slowly defrost in the fridge. Before you process the fish, wash it and dab it dry. A good preparation and an optimal storage ensure the perfect fish treat.
Info feature fish: Fresh or salty?
Depending on the kind of habitat, fish are distinguished between saltwater and freshwater fish.
Saltwater fish live in all world oceans, the most important fish species are:
The saithe has firm and white meat with a strong aroma.
Herrings have very rich and aromatic meat.
The cod has mild and lean fish meat.
The tuna fish is mainly available in cans. The red tuna has firm and lean meat and is well suited to be eaten raw or as sushi. But it is highly endangered.
The redfish is mainly available as fillet and has a pleasantly mild taste.
Anchovies are popular as a fresh delicacy in the Mediterranean region. In stores, they are pickled.
Other well-known saltwater fish are turbot, halibut, sardine, mackerel, plaice, monkfish and sea bass.
Freshwater fish are fish that live and spawn exclusively in freshwater. Local freshwater fish species play an especially big role in the regional cuisine:
Trouts like river trout and rainbow trout have lean meat with a fine aroma.
Carps have nutty and aromatic meat. They are the ecologically right decision; next to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, carp can be part of the meal more often.
The zander has white, lean and almost boneless meat with a mild aroma.
Chars have tender and salmon pink meat and are popular food fish.
Salmons spend most of their lives in the sea but move up the rivers in order to spawn. Their meat is very popular due to its aromatic taste and the high amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
The iridescent shark lives in the rivers and seas of South East Asia, its meat is pale pink and firm.
Other important freshwater fish are perch, tench and pike.