We have many options when it comes to buying fresh fish in New Zealand. You may wonder which is the best fish to serve and how often should we eat it? Well, here is some information on the good and the bad of our fish.
There are plenty of benefits to eating fish along with a balanced diet. They are a great source of minerals, proteins, iodine, some vitamins and omega 3 essential fatty acid. There is growing evidence indicating omega-3 fatty acids provide a number of health benefits.
The foods highest in omega 3 fatty acids include flaxseed oil, fish oil, chia seeds, walnuts, fish roe (eggs), fatty fish, seafood, soybeans, and dark green leafy vegetables, and wild game meats like venison.
Here are some of the benefits of Omega 3's:
- They reduce tissue inflammation which can people with achy joints and inflamed sore tissues. 3000mg a day can help to relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- They play an important role for prenatal and postnatal neurological development.
- They regulate our vessel constriction, responsible for lowering blood pressure. They also help in the regulation of blood clotting.
- They may reduce depression and halt mental decline in older people.
Vitamins and minerals are also present in fish:
- B-complex vitamins have been associated with healthy development of the nervous system and is very important for enzyme function.
- Vitamin A is needed for healthy vision and healthy skin; for normal growth and formation of bones, teeth and cell building.
- Vitamin D is essential in bone development.
- Minerals, like calcium and phosphorus are necessary for healthy bones and strong teeth.
- Magnesium keeps your heart and vascular systems healthy, helps to prevent formation of kidney stones and stimulates digestion.
- Selenium helps to keep the tissue elasticity; increases resistance to disease and prevents anemia. Potassium and selenium are also thought to help lower blood pressure.
Unfortunately our waters are not pure as they once were. There is a growing concern about the toxins present in the marine life which end up on our plate. These toxins begin to accumulated in our body and can interfere with our normal functioning and chemical balance.
Cold water, fatty fish provide the richest source of omega-3 fatty acids due to their cold, deep water environment and diet, reports University of Michigan Integrative Medicine. It can be quite confusing since some of the deep water fish high in omega 3 may also have high levels of mercury! How does a seemingly health fish get contaminated with mercury?
A new paper, published in Nature Geoscience, pinpoints the difference in mercury levels in shallow and deep-water fish as in the amount of sunlight to which the animals are exposed and proposes that most of the mercury that humans consume is produced in the deep ocean.
The process begins with oceanic bacteria in the deep, dark ocean. These microbes convert mercury from the atmosphere into monomethylmercury, a form of the compound especially toxic to humans that can accumulate in animal tissue. Little fish snack on those bacteria, taking in that organic compound. Large predatory fish feast on those little fish, building up mercury in their own bodies. Some studies have indicated that high levels of mercury in pregnant or breastfeeding women have been linked to cognitive problems in their children. (read the journal here)
- Mercury can affect our brain and nervous system, as it can be difficult to eliminate from our body. However, we can we choose our fish carefully to avoid exposure.
- The Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) recommend to limit the following fish in our diet due to high level of mercury : Billfish (swordfish, broad bill and marlin), Shark (flake), Orange roughy (sea pearch), Catfish, Bluefish, Kink mackerel and tile fish, Oysters, clams and mussels.
- If you consume tinned fish read the ingredients. Make sure there is only fish, salt and oil. Herring and sardines are a better choice than tuna, and look for the fish packed in olive oil.
So what is the best fish to eat?
GO WILD- If you can!
The health of fish comes down to it's habitat and exposure to toxic substances. Farm-raised fish may contain higher levels of contaminants than wild, or wild-caught fish, according to the University of Michigan. Some fish farms take extra precautions to limit contaminant exposure so search for wild.
However, it is very difficult to find wild salmon in New Zealand so look for the best of what's available. All New Zealand salmon is the Pacific King variety. Aoraki farm fresh water salmon. Their Chinook / King Salmon are grown in constantly flowing, clear, cold glacial waters. Read more here: Aoraki farmed salmon.
Most salmon are anadromous fish, meaning they are born in freshwater (rivers or streams), travel to and live much of their lives in salt water and return to freshwater to spawn. Atlantic salmon in the supermarkets comes from Norway. It is farmed, killed, frozen, shipped to New Zealand, thawed and sold at a lower price, cheaper than our own farmed salmon. In New Zealand, we are lucky; we always have the option to buy fresh over frozen!
The best way to avoid tampered fish is to source a provider of fresh local fresh fish. In Wellington there is a fishing boat that comes to the Sunday market near Te Papa. This is a great way to eat local and while supporting a your local fishermen. If you are lucky enough to find wild salmon pay the extra price for it; it is worth it!
- Eating fish at least twice a week is ideal. When choosing fish, look for it to have a clear eyes when whole, a fresh aroma and avoid fish that smells overly fishy. Aim to eat fish within two days of purchase.
- If you do not to eat fish: You can take a daily dose of 3,000-4,000 mg of fish oil. Buy your oil from a practitioner to assure it is a pure, tested, high quality product. Unfortunately most fish oils on the market are already rancid by time they hit the shelf and these can do more harm than good.
- If you find a good source of fresh wild fish in Wellington please comment below and share your knowledge!