Fish is a great source of protein, omega 3 and vitamin D and believed to be helpful for our bones, skin eyes and nerves.

As with many of the food groups, fish has attracted a few health scares over the years, such as worries over mercury levels, but nutritionists point out that the risks associated with fish are small compared with the benefits of fish consumption.

Recommended intake of fish

The NHS advises that we eat at least two portions of fish a week with at least one of these portions being oily fish.

A portion is deemed to be 140g of cooked fish.

Health benefits of fish

Fish provide a good source of protein and omega 3 fatty acids.

Oily fish is a particularly good source of omega 3 which is why we’re advised to eat at least one portion of oily fish a week.

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid which has been linked with improved heart health.

Fish is also a good source of vitamin D, which helps keep bones healthy, and vitamin B2, which is good for the skin, eyes, red blood cells and nervous system

The body gets most of its vitamin D from our own cholesterol when our skin is exposed to the sun but other dietary sources of vitamin D include eggs and dairy produce.

Fish and suitability in a diabetic diet

Fish is a good food for people with diabetes. Protein provides some of our energy needs and omega 3 may help our heart health

Low levels of vitamin D are common in people with diabetes, so including fish in the diet is a good way to add to your dietary vitamin D intake.

Scientists and researchers have hypothesised that consumption of fish may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes

However, it has not been clear whether fish can be isolated as having a preventative effect and higher fish intakes may instead be a reflection of a better all round diet

Health risks of eating fish

Higher levels of mercury are found in certain fish including shark, swordfish, marlin and tuna. The levels of mercury present in most fish are not thought to be dangerous but the NHS advises pregnant or breastfeeding women to not eat:

  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Marlin
  • Fresh tuna but advises that canned tuna can be consumed in moderation.

Fish and seafood allergies are relatively common, just behind egg and peanut allergies. Symptoms of an allergy can include nausea, sickness, stomach cramps and diarrhoea.

Hygiene, handling and storage

Eating raw or uncooked fish can lead to food poisoning. Oysters are often served raw and so present a higher risk of food poisoning than cooked fish. Raw fish should be kept out of direct contact with other food. Wash your hands after handling raw meat and any utensils that have come into contact with it.

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