Eat more fish, researchers say

Atlantic Salmon fishThis Easter, have some fish.

Australians should eat more fish, suggests the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australia’s leading health research body.

NHMRC said fish is an excellent source of readily available long-chain omega-3 fatty acids known for their health benefits. Other nutrients include protein, selenium, zinc, iodine and vitamins A and D (some species only)

Researchers worldwide have discovered that eating fish regularly – two or more serves weekly – may reduce the risk of diseases ranging from childhood asthma, cardiovascular diseases, prostate cancer and other diseases typical of Western societies.

The National Heart Foundation recommends that Australians consume at least 500 mg per day of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. This can be achieved by eating a combination of two to three serves of oily fish every week. Oily fish are those that contain at least ten per cent fat (healthy omega-3 oils), such as canned sardines, salmon and some varieties of canned tuna.

Meanwhile, a review in the British Medical Journal recommends fish or fish oil supplements to prevent heart attacks, particularly in people with vascular disease.

Healthy ways to cook fish include:

  • Baking – make shallow cuts along the top of the fish. Put into a greased dish and cover with foil. Flavour with herbs, lemon juice and olive oil. Bake at around 180 °C and baste frequently.
  • Shallow frying – dry and flour the fish. Place a small amount of oil or butter in the pan. Fry the fish at a medium heat.
  • Grilling – cut slashes into whole fish to help the heat penetrate the flesh. Place fish on a preheated grill. Baste frequently.
  • Poaching – not suitable for flaky varieties. Place fish in gently simmering stock. Whole fish should be placed in a pan of cold stock, which is then slowly brought up to a gentle simmer.
  • Steaming – put fish in a steamer or on a plate over a saucepan containing gently boiling water. Cover.

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