7 myths about fish
Not eating enough fish? You're not alone. Nearly half of us consume less than the recommended two portions a week. Heart health dietitian Tracy Parker explains why you shouldn’t let these common myths put you off.
1. Fish tastes really strong
If you’re not a fan of that fishy taste, milder fish such as tilapia, cod or halibut can be good introductions. Pair them with flavourful toppings such as fresh herbs or lemon, capers and tomatoes and grill or bake. As you get used to eating fish you can start to experiment with other varieties.
Try this baked cod with a herby lemon crust (pictured) which takes just 12 minutes to cook.
2. Fish is full of bones
Lots of fish comes filleted these days, so you don’t have to worry about bones – and it’s easy to cook if the thought of cooking a whole fish puts you off.
You can use any sustainable white fish fillets in our healthy version of fish and chips.
Cooking en papillote (in parchment) seals in the moisture of fish fillets, which adds flavour, leaving you with juicy flesh and perfectly tender vegetables - our baked fish with vegetables en papillotte will impress at any dinner.
3. Frozen fish is not as good as fresh
There are lots of great fish options in the freezer cabinet of your supermarket – fillets of cod, haddock, and hake are widely available, as well as steaks of oily fish like salmon and tuna. Frozen fish is great value for money, as it rarely gets wasted, and nutritious, as the freezing process seals in all the goodness like vitamins and omega-3s. Most importantly, it’s quick and easy to cook. Some even recommended cooking from frozen to get the best results.
Try this fish pie recipe (pictured) using a packet of frozen fish pie mix.
4. Fish is really expensive
Tinned fish tend to be cheaper and easier to use than fresh, with the long shelf life making it a great store cupboard staple.
Tinned pilchards, sardines, herrings or mackerel are all good sources of healthy omega-3 oils. While tinned tuna may not count as an oily fish (fresh does), it still counts as a portion of fish. So you can buy these fish on a budget and still get all the nutritional benefits of the more expensive fresh type. Opt for those tinned in spring water, unsaturated oil or tomato sauce rather than in brine which is salty.
For a hearty meal using tinned fish that won’t break the bank, try our tagliatelle with salmon and courgettes (pictured) or our tuna and courgette risotto.
5. My kids/husband/wife won’t eat fish
Have you tried using fish in a dish with a more “meaty” feel? Make a heart-healthy sandwich with the feel of a burger by using tuna or salmon in these tasty burgers.
Most people like kebabs – and they’re great for children who like to eat with their fingers. These salmon and vegetable kebabs are easy to make. If there are any leftover, you can pop them in a pitta (pictured) for a lunch.
If your loved ones need more persuasion to eat fish, you can tell them there’s growing evidence that meat-heavy diets are not good for our health and can shorten our lives.
Substituting fish for chicken or beef in some of your favourite dishes is a great way at way to add fish to your diet and years to your life. Fish is also high in protein, low in saturated fat and a good source of Vitamin D and selenium.
6. Fish is full of pollutants
Certain types of fish can contain pollutants, but these are at low levels. Over time, they can build up in your body, which is why we’re not recommended to have more than four portions a week of oily fish (two portions a week for women who are trying for a baby, pregnant or breastfeeding, or four cans of tuna a week for women who are pregnant or trying for a baby.) Most of us are not eating as much as this anyway, so including more fish in our diet, including at least one portion of oily fish, will do more to benefit our health than damage it.
7. Fish is the only way to get your omega-3s
It is true that oily fish – such as trout, mackerel and salmon – is high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to keep your heart healthy. There is a vegetarian form of omega-3 found in foods such as flaxseed, walnuts and rapeseed and soya oils. However, it remains unclear as to whether the omega 3 found in vegetarian sources provides the same benefits as those from fish. But we do know that these foods are rich in healthy fats, so including them in your diet (especially as a replacement for saturated fats such as those in butter and meat) is likely to be a good thing.