Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fish Facts for Beginners

I love fish so I know the importance of choosing the freshest fish possible. Fish, which are extremely healthy, are increasing in demand in the cuisines of many countries. East Asia is the greatest importer and exporter of fish. Thailand is the leading exporter, China ranks third, and Indonesia is among the top ten.

China is a leading exporter of pollack, cod, haddock, and cephalopods, though China, too, is beginning to rely more and more on imported fish.

The largest culinary market for tuna is, of course, Japan. The Japanese, as a nation, eat more than 200,000 tons of tuna each year compared to only 55,000 tons consumed in the United States. Most of the tuna consumed in Japan is yellowfin or bigeye tuna. Ecuador and Trinidad are the biggest suppliers of tuna to the United States.

Fish and shellfish are so healthy because they're the best source of omega-3 oil, something our body needs to boost HDL, or "healthy cholesterol." Omega-3 oils also go far in strengthening the immune system. Omega-3 oils can cut the risk of heart disease, arthritis, depression, and inflammaion.

It's not hard to guess that the fish highest in omega-3 oils are the oily fish - salmon, trout, bluefish, tuna, anchovies, mackerel, herring, and sardines. You might not like all of these varieties of fish, but adding a serving of one or two of them two to three times each week will greatly enhance your diet - and your health.

While all of us should avoid trans fats and saturated fats, eliminating all fat (like the mono- and polyunsaturated fats) isn't a good idea. This can lead to dry skin and various other health problems. Adding fish high in omega-3 fatty oils can add healthy fat to your diet.

Fish caught at sea contain a higher amount of omega-3 fatty oils, but they are more likely to contain contaminants as well. Farm raised fish have far fewer contaminants, but they contain fewer omega-3 oils as well. So, it's a tradeoff. We feel it's best to add a variety of fish to your diet. Grill yourself a fresh salmon or trout or make a tuna salad sandwich and enjoy!

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