Fish processing vital part in healthy diet. That can be taken in several forms in day to day life. So far Sri Lanka is an Island, fish is widely available, accessible and utilized by different socio-economic groups. There are lots of rumors about fish consumption in good and bad slides. So there are lots of misconceptions regarding fish consumption among public.
Fish is a good source of high quality protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron and also it’s excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, and iodine.
Fish protein is rich in high quality proteins because, it contains all essential amino acids. This important for growth, and maintenance of organs, cells in the body.
Fish is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially Salaya, Kumbalawa, Bolla (mackerel), Hurulla. Fish oil plays a crucial role in the prevention of atherosclerosis, heart attack, depression, cancer, and development of brain and vision.
Fish is a good source of calcium. Consuming bones, especially those of dried sprats (Anchovy), Kunissa, Hurulla, Salaya, most of our calcium requirement will be fulfilled. Calcium is important to the formation and maintenance of bones, teeth, and muscle contraction. It is responsible for reducing the risk of rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults.
Fish diet can preferably supply fair amount of Iron. Form of Iron present in the fish easily absorbable in human gut than plant origin sources, especially all red fish, sardinella, dried fish (Karuwala).
Fish is an excellent source for vitamin A and D, especially oily fish like sardinella sp, salmon, Tuna, mackerel. It is important for the maintenance of strong bones.
Also shell fish (shrimp, crabs, cuttlefish and oysters) are good sources of iron and omega-3 fatty acids. Further, it is an excellent source of zinc, selenium, iodine.
Fish meat contaminated by several pollutants such as mercury, PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls), and dioxins. Even low levels of mercury can effect nerves in adults and disrupt development of the brain in both adult and young children. Evidence regarding toxicity of PCB’S and dioxins are not clear.
Therefore, it is better to include variety of safe fish source like fatty fish (salmon, sardine, mackerel), and non fatty fish which are from different aquatic sources like brackish water (bays, coves, lagoon, and estuaries), fresh water (reservoirs, rivers, lakes, canals) and marine water (fjords, inshore, and open water) and preparation fish with different combination like fish with tomato, fish with egg, fish with potato include iron absorption. Its better to practice different cooking me methods such as boiling, deep frying, shallow frying, fished baked, grilled, curry, cutlets, sandwiches, salad and soup.
It is advisable to use coconut oil in deep frying to avoid bad fat (trans) formation, and sunflower oil, sesame oil or olive oil or mixed oil (sunflower, olive oil, sesame oil) in shallow frying. But, it is better to avoid reusing oil (previously used) as much as possible. Consumption of whole fish gives more health benefits over canned and process fish products. In that case high salt concentration in dry fish can lead to hypertension at the same time consumption of canned fish induce the threat of CVD (cardiovascular disease), hypertension as well.
Finally, according to Sri Lankan food guide intake of fish give maximum health benefits. Fish is a good source of quality protein, low in fat and has a wide variety of nutrients in easy digestible form. So, including variety of fish, three to four serving (90-120 g) per day is important.