People often think that their New Year’s resolution to eat more healthily means eating out less. That might be true for some places, but not when there’s a Cape Town Fish Market nearby. Fish is one of the healthiest foods out there – it’s lean, rich in protein, and full of oils and fatty acids that are good for our brains. If you want to slim down and stay sharp in 2017, here’s our guide to how healthy (and totally delicious) seafood can help you do just that.
So, what makes fish a healthy food?
1. It’s a high quality source of protein
We all know protein has something to do with muscle, right? But it’s actually pretty complicated. Protein is tricky for us to understand because there are many different kinds of proteins that each do different things in the body.
Fish contains the kind of protein that’s great at repairing and building muscle. But that same kind of protein is also one of the core building blocks of blood, bones, cartilage, skin, and other kinds of tissue. People sometimes think that they don’t need much protein because they’re not athletes or don’t spend lots of time at the gym, but that’s not true. Your body is renewing itself all the time, even when you’re sitting still. The cells that make up your stomach lining, for example, are replaced every 2 to 3 days. The taste buds on your tongue are renewed every 10 to 14 days. The cells that make up your lungs and your skin are both replaced every 2 to 4 weeks. Even our bone cells get replaced – but only about every 10 years or so.
All of this requires enough protein to happen effectively, and fish is a great source of that because it has a high protein density. For example, both salmon and tuna have approximately 22g of protein per 100g of fish. And if you’re counting calories, fish has one of the highest protein to calorie ratios of any food, which makes it a great way of maximising protein while minimising calories for those watching their weight.
Our meal recommendation: Teriyaki Salmon
Available in 180g or 280g, this delicious salmon fillet is seared (instead of grilled or fried) to ensure we lock in as much natural goodness as possible, and served with wilted greens for a meal that’s nutritionally-balanced and an ideal healthy option for anyone looking to ensure they’re getting enough protein in their diet.
2. Fat-soluble Vitamin D
When we think of getting Vitamin D, we usually think of getting out in the sun – and that’s true. Our bodies naturally make Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. It’s why Vitamin D is also sometimes called the sunshine vitamin. However, our modern lifestyles mean that we don’t get nearly as much sun as we used to, even in a sunny country like South Africa. Many people go from their homes to their cars to their offices and back, without realising that they might be missing out on the production of an important vitamin.
Vitamin D plays a very important role by allowing our bodies to absorb calcium, which is essential for keeping our bones strong. Our bones get renewed every 10 years, remember, and without Vitamin D, they would just get weaker and more brittle over time. That’s why it’s usually a lack of Vitamin D – not a lack of calcium – that causes diseases like rickets, a disorder that can result in soft, weakened bones, stunted growth and even deformities in severe cases.
Luckily for us, there’s another way to make sure you get your daily dose of Vitamin D as part of a healthy diet. Yes, you guessed it – fish. This is where the ‘fat soluble’ part comes in. That just means that Vitamin D dissolves in fat or oil, so when you’re eating a food that has lots of Vitamin D, it needs to have some fat as well for you to get the benefit of it.
Enter fatty fish such as salmon, trout, cod, herring, and many others. Because fish like these have natural, healthy fats, you absorb more of their Vitamin D. 100g of Trout, for example, contains more than 100% of your recommended daily Vitamin D needs.
Our meal recommendation: Rainbow Trout, prepared with lemon butter and crème fraîche
Our freshwater trout serves up everything your body needs in terms of lean protein, Vitamin D and essential fats in a delicious, low-carb meal that’s continually proven to be one of Cape Town Fish Market’s favourites.
3. It’s the world’s best source of omega-3 fatty acids
Omega 3s have been widely publicised in the last few years as something that can prove beneficial for everything from joint pain to memory to heart disease. We know that they’re good for us, but not many people understand how or why they’re good for us. After all, how can they be good for so many things?
The key is inflammation. Omega 3s reduce chronic inflammation in the body, and because inflammation is linked to so many conditions, omega 3s are beneficial for a wide variety of problems – from joint pain to autoimmune diseases like asthma. They’re also good for your brain. They protect brain cells and improve nerve transmission – if your mind was an engine, omega 3s would be like the oil that helped keep it running in good condition. In fact, in America, the government has approved the addition of omega 3s to baby food because of all the evidence that it improves brain function.
And the best part? The best source of omega 3s is fish, especially naturally fatty fish like salmon, trout and tuna. The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat a variety of fish at least twice a week to get a healthy level of omega 3s in their diet. A wide variety of supplements are also available, but we think nothing beats delicious, fresh fish.
Our meal recommendation: Salmon and Tuna Sashimi from our sushi bar
Salmon and tuna are both high in omega 3s, and what healthier way to enjoy both their texture and health benefits than as sashimi at our sushi bar? Whether you’re just dropping by for lunch or you’re ordering a platter, add a portion of salmon or tuna to get your daily omega 3s the natural way.
By providing high quality protein, Vitamin D, and omega 3s, fish is one of the healthiest foods you can have in your diet. If your New Year’s resolution is to stay healthy in 2017, get started with an evening out at your nearest Cape Town Fish Market, and share your knowledge about the incredible health benefits of your new favourite meal.