What Fish to Choose When on Diet


fishFish is very nutritious and should be encouraged on to the family menu. Today there is a wide range of fish for sale, although in parts of the world fish is a much scarcer and more expensive commodity, due to over-fishing of some seas. Fish can be roughly divided into three groups: white fish, oily or fatty fish and shellfish.

White fish

White fish are saltwater fish and include cod, coley, haddock, ling, monkfish, plaice, sole, whiting and many others. These fish have a very low-fat content, although the fish liver may be high in fat. If cooked without added fat these fish are low in calories and high in protein. Cod liver oil and halibut liver oil, obtained from white fish has very high levels of vitamins A and D.

Fatty or oily fish

Oily fish includes herring, mackerel, eels, salmon, sardines, trout and many others. The higher fat content in the often pink or creamy-coloured flesh gives these fish a rich flavour Their calorie content is higher than that of white fish, but their flavour makes a smaller portion satisfying.

Fatty acids

Oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines and pilchards are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These are polyunsaturated fats and can help to protect against coronary heart disease. Mackerel is a comparatively cheap fish, so it is particularly recommended as part of a healthy diet.

Shellfish and other seafood

Shellfish includes prawns, shrimps, scampi, oysters, lobsters, scallops, cockles, mussels and many others. The total fat in shellfish is low, but all of them, particularly lobster, are high in cholesterol. Fish roe, including caviar, also has a high cholesterol level.


Cholesterol is a natural constituent in the blood, and a high dietary fat intake can cause an increase in our cholesterol levels. There is some debate over the significance of cholesterol in foods, but in reality the cholesterol we take in from foods is probably much less implicated in heart disease than the fat we ingest.

It has been suggested also that the cholesterol in shellfish is of a type which does not increase human blood cholesterol. Whether or not this is true, eating shellfish in moderation is unlikely to be harmful to health.

Other nutrients

Shellfish contain small amounts of B vitamins and some varieties, especially cockles, are high in iron. They contain small amounts of other minerals, but nearly all have a high sodium chloride (salt) content.

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