All types of fish are good for you. However, some fish are better than others, in terms of nutrient content. Tilapia and nile perch are the commonest types of fish in Uganda. Other fish types include tilapia, spat, cat fish, Nile tilapia and silverfish.
Fish is a high-protein, low-fat food that provides a range of health benefits. It is considered a white meat and is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein. According to Amanda Tumwebaze, a freelance nutritionist, it is also recommended for people on weight loss diet. It is rich in protein, vitamin D and omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.
Any form of processing food usually distorts its nutrient value content. Whether you opt for salting, drying or smoking, fresh fish gives a better nutrient value than any of the processes.
While the other methods are usually preservative or adding flavour, Tumwebaze says, you may get the same nutrients but in lesser amounts than they would be if the fish was fresh. “Fish is very soft and should not be overcooked. This is because overcooking it denatures the protein content in them,” she says.
Silver fish is very versatile and can be added to several soups for both toddlers and adults. You may dry and crash it to form a powder for children that may find it a problem to eat them directly and added to ground nut sauce and porridge.
Tumwebaze advises mothers not to give fish to babies under six months because if it is not cooked well, it might carry bacteria that can affect the child.
Fish is high in many important nutrients, including high-quality protein, iodine and various vitamins and minerals.
Regular fish intake may lower your risk of heart attacks and stroke because they contain omega 3 and 6 which are protective for the heart.
“Since the human body cannot make significant amounts of these essential nutrients, fish is an important part of the diet that will help maintain cardiovascular health by playing a role in the regulation of blood clotting and vessel constriction. It may also play a role in warding off cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat),” says Tumwebaze.
Treat aging problems
Fausta Akech, a nutritionist at Healthy U, says, “Macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness, and mostly affects older individuals.
The omega-3 fatty acids provide protection against old age sight problems which could lead to vision impairment and blindness.”
One of the consequences of ageing is that brain function often deteriorates and fish consumption is linked to reduced decline in brain function in old age.
People who eat fish regularly also have more brain centers that control memory and emotion.
“Fish and omega-3 fatty acids may also help with mental disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder. The acids can be beneficial against depression and significantly increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications when prescribed,” Akech says.
Fausta Akech, a nutritionist at Healthy U, says calcium contained mainly in the silverfish is fundamental in bone health and helps maintain bone strength and mass.
Silverfish in particular is not only important in building body muscles but it is equally paramount for development in children. “Since it is eaten with its bones which contain calcium, it is a good source of calcium which helps in maintaining healthy and strong teeth and bones.