Fish are good sources of essential vitamins, such as niacin, and minerals, such as selenium and iodine. Although most people should be eating more fish for their health, there are maximum levels recommended for oily fish and crab (and some types of white fish), see How much oily fish? in Oily fish, shellfish and omega 3. Also, again for health reasons, adults should have no more than one portion of swordfish, shark or marlin a week. This is because these fish could contain high levels of mercury.
People who eat a lot of fish every week should try to eat as wide a variety as possible not only for good health but also because of concerns about numbers of fish. Different types of seafood also give different health benefits.
Oily fish, includes fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring. It is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which helps prevent heart disease and is a good source of vitamins A and D
White fish, includes fish such as haddock, plaice, pollack, coley and cod. White fish is very low in fat. This means, just like beans and pulses or chicken without the skin, white fish is a healthier low-fat alternative to, for example, red or processed meat that tends to be higher in fat, especially saturated fat. White fish contains some omega 3 fatty acids, but at much lower levels than oily fish.
Shellfish, includes prawns, mussels and langoustine, is low in fat. Shellfish is a good source of selenium, zinc, iodine and copper. Some types such as mussels, oysters, squid and crab are also good sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
Fish where you also eat the bones, includes whitebait, canned sardines, pilchards and salmon. It helps make our bones stronger because they are good sources of calcium and phosphorus
We should be eating at least two portions of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are good sources of a variety of vitamins and minerals, and oily fish is particularly rich in omega 3 fatty acids. But if we want to make sure there are enough fish to eat now, and in the future, we need to start thinking about the choices we make when we choose which fish we eat.
Fish For Children and Babies
Introducing your children to fish as early as you can also makes a difference. We started giving our kids fish oil on a spoon when they were just 6 months old. They were soon chewing the capsules (by their own choice) and now fish is one of their favorite foods. When we go out to eat, the chances are 8 out of 10 that they’ll order fish.
Don’t give any fish or shellfish to babies younger than six months because these foods can trigger the development of a food allergy at this age.Children should avoid eating any shark, swordfish or marlin. This is because the levels of mercury in these fish can affect the development of children’s growing nervous systems.
You might also want to avoid giving raw shellfish to babies and children to reduce their risk of getting food poisoning.
The consumption of some large fish species should be avoided for small children due to the risk of excess levels of mercury, according to new research published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Because mercury can affect the development of unborn babies and young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and parents and carers of children up to 6 years old should manage how much of each fish species they eat, and how often.
In order to help your children live a long happy healthy life, give these suggestions a try. Research shows that fish also improves a child’s behavior and mood, so there are added benefits for you too and you will be glad you taught your kids to eat fish.
Recommended Intake of Fish
Children up to 6 years – 1 serve equals 75g, or half of a medium sized fillet
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, women planning pregnancy
1 serve equals a medium-sized fillet of 150g
• 2-3 serves per week of any fish and seafood not listed below
• 1 serve per fortnight of Shark (Flake) or Billfish (Broadbill, Swordfish and Marlin) and no other fish that fortnight
• 1 serve per week of Orange Roughy (Deep Sea Perch) or Catfish and no other fish that week
If you want to make the healthier choice, remember to go for steamed, baked or grilled fish rather than fried. This is because frying makes fish much higher in fat, especially if they’re cooked in batter.