Fish is a perfectly healthy diet as it contains low-fat and high-protein. Some fish, such as salmon, are fatty but they contain omega-3 fatty acids, which, among other things, help boost artery-clearing HDL cholesterol and reduce inflammation. It is also feared that eating fish can expose us to dangerous contaminants such as mercury, and chemicals such as PCBs.

Why is fish good for us?

Our body cannot produce sufficient quantity of omega-3 fatty acids, or the “good” fats. Oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids and white-fleshed fish, in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein. Fish are also low in the “bad” fats commonly found in red meat, called omega-6 fatty acids.

What are the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids?

Among other things, omega-3 fatty acid reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. They also lower the amount of lipids in the bloodstream. The Omega-3 in the fish also bolsters the skin barrier - that is, the layer of lipids that holds onto moisture and keeps irritants out. There is even evidence that the skin-strengthening effects of omega-3s can improve chronic skin conditions like rosacea and atopic dermatitis, but more research is necessary to confirm that link

How much fish is good for us?

Health experts advise that eating fish twice a week is indeed good for us. At this level of consumption the potential cardiovascular benefits outweigh the risks of exposure to contaminants. It is, however, advisable to eat a variety of fish to reduce our risk of exposure to contaminants.

When is fish not so good for our health?

Eating fish can also make one ill. This illness is mainly caused by poisoning, food borne infections and allergic responses. Poisoning comes from both biotoxins (toxins produced by biological organisms like alga) and from pollutions and environmental toxins accumulated in fish.

Trace amounts of mercury can be found in all fish. Most healthy adults have the capacity to eliminate the mercury from their bodies, but children and pregnant and breast-feeding women run greater risk of mercury exposure and should avoid some types of fish and shellfish.

Which are good and bad fish?

Larger and older sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish contain the highest level of mercury and hence it is better to avoid eating much of these fish. Fish and shellfish such as shrimp, pollock, canned light tuna, salmon and catfish contain much less mercury and can be termed as good fish.

Can the type of cooking make a difference in the fish?

It is also important to note that deep-frying fish may increase the concentration of mercury in fish. Deep fried or served with a heavy, fat- and calorie-dense sauce will turn even healthy fish into an unhealthy meal.

What is the difference between wild and farmed fish?

Wild fish, which are caught in rivers, seas and oceans, are much better than farmed fish, the kind fed and raised in a crowded tank. Wild fish grow and evolve their muscles, tissues and fat by fighting for survival in the oceans and rivers. Farm raised fish, on the other hand, live in a locked-up, artificial and contaminated environment. Moreover, they have to be fed and often coloured to make them look healthy.

Farmed fish may accumulate toxins, including mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, in their tissues.

What are the other benefits of fish?

Apart from the heart, fish is good for skin, asthma and even Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, many types of fish (like, once again, salmon and cod) are rich in vitamin D. As exposure to sun reduces fish can be a good source of vitamin D.