Food and Nutrition
Fish

​​Introduction:

Fish is an important part of a healthy diet, as it is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, low in calories, and not high in saturated fats, unlike meats.

Nutritional Value of Fish:
Fish contains numerous nutrients, which are valuable for adults and necessary for the growth and development of the child's nervous system, including:
  1. Omega 3: Research has shown the importance of omega-3 fatty acids, in terms of:
    • Benefitting heart health, especially for those with (or at risk of developing) cardiovascular diseases.
    • Reducing the risk of arrhythmias.
    • Lowering triglycerides.
  2. Protein: It is important for muscle growth, blood, enzymes, and hormones in the body.
  3. Vitamin B12: It is useful for:
    • Red blood cell (RBC) production (erythropoiesis).
    • Nervous system health.
    • Nerve fibers protection.
  4. Vitamin (D): It is among the important vitamins that maintain the body general health, including:
    • Bone Health.
    • Teeth health.
    • Muscle growth and maintenance.
  5. Iron: It is important for infants, children, pregnant women, or those who are planning to become pregnant; it is an essential element for erythropoiesis.
  6.  Other minerals, such as selenium, zinc, and iodine.
Recommended Quantity:
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and herring) at least two times (two servings) a week. Each serving is 99, 2 grams (3.5 ounce) cooked, or about ¾ cup of fish powder. However, the children should eat fish in limited amounts (hand size average).

Fish and Environmental Contaminants:
Some fish types contain higher levels of mercury and other environmental contaminants, such as: dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and others, which may pose a greater risk to pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children. Therefore, children and pregnant women are advised to avoid eating high mercury fish, such as sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, but to eat lower-mercury fish and seafood, such as: salmon, shrimp, and others.

Table Showing Fish Types according to Mercury Levels:
The best types of fish are recommended to be eaten two to three times per week, and good types are preferred to be eaten once per week, while the latter types are best to be avoided because they contain high levels of mercury.

Healthiest & Best Types
Good Types
Types to Be Avoided 
​Oysters
Salmon
Sardines
Shrimp
White fish
Haddock
Cod
Crab
Seabream
Grouper
Halibut
Rock fish
Snapper
Monkfish

King mackerel
Sharks
swordfish


Fish Flaking:
Some fishes, caught from lakes, rivers, or oceans, may contain chemicals that accumulate in their skin fat, internal organs, and sometimes in fatty tissues. These chemicals may pose health risks if consumed in large quantities; as they may cause birth defects, liver damage, cancer, or other serious health problems. Flaking fish limits the amount of chemical contaminants; as it is preferable to remove the skin, fat and internal organs before cooking fish.

General Tips before Eating Fish:
  • Specify the type and size when eating fish; as smaller fishes contain fewer contaminants than larger fishes, because smaller fishes feed with insects; and thus are less likely to contain contaminants.
  • Clean and cook fish properly; as this would reduce the levels of some chemical containments.
  • Use appropriate food storage methods to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Keep the fish away from direct sunlight.
  • Avoid soups that contain fish scales.
  • Eat less fried fish and replace them with grilled fish.
  • Avoid eating sharks, swordfish, and king mackerel that contain high levels of mercury.

Attention: Some chemical contaminants, such as mercury and others may pose greater risks for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children; so these groups should be careful when eating fish.

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