Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Eat Fish to Remain Healthy

Fish and the Darkness

My Photography (Taken from Flickr: Jalalspages)

I am junk food lover – I eat whatever comes my way. From vendors to restaurants, nothing escapes me. But is eating everything that comes one’s way is really good for health? I generally do not ponder. But if sanity prevails on me, I should be careful of what I eat. The oily, very high fatty sweet cookies, foods rich in spices are deadly in the long run. Even taking meat and beef in large quantities is injurious to health. That’s what is written everywhere. So what do I eat – I asked?”Fish,” came the answer. Fish?? But you cannot take this so often – it isn’t yummy to eat as compared to sizzling steaks or kababs. But the answer remained unchanged.

So I went looking for why fish is better than the rest. I found out fish is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids, which are lacking in most diets, and can reduce some problems associated with PMS, memory loss, cardiovascular functions, colon cancer, and stroke. The tissues of oily fish provide fish oil which contains the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), precursors to eicosanoids (believe me it is hard to pronounce such medical terms – so I write exactly as I found out) that reduce inflammation throughout the body and are therefore recommended by experts for a healthy diet.

In view of the pollution in the sea, oil spills and other thrown objects, or the industrial waste going into the seas, mercury is found in some fish and shrimp which makes people cautious and shy away from the fish food. But researches in to matter show that the mercury found in certain fish and shellfish is very small and thus is not a health hazard. However, pregnant women or those breast-feeding and young children should be careful about what fish they eat and in what amount. According to the USA Environmental Protection Agency, Tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel and shark carry the highest levels of mercury and should not be consumed. While Shrimp, salmon, pollocks, canned light tuna, shrimp and catfish contain lower levels of mercury, but should not be eaten more than 12 ounces in a week. Albacore also contains mercury and should be held to six ounces of consumption in a week.

Going by the food we eat here in Pakistan, there is a dire need that we change our eating habits or at least introduce fish in recommended quantities every week to reduce the harm our otherwise tasty foods do to us. But there is a caution here as well. The fish, if and when we eat, is deep fried in oil and is highly spiced – and remember we eat by kilos. This nullifies the effect the fish has to make on us. So instead we need to replace the cooking method and better would be to eat fish that is steam roasted with little or no oil. I remember I ate steam roasted fish in Iran and I still remember the fresh aroma nd taste of the fish that my landlady baked for us.

So I am also convinced to eat fish and change my dietary habits – it is only the practical manifestation of this conviction that remains to be implemented.