Known scientifically as gill-bearing aquatic organisms that lack digits and have a spine, fish have been part of humanity’s diet for millions of years. Does fish fit into the paleo diet?
Should I Eat Fish And Is it Paleo?
One of the few foods that receive glowing recommendations from Paleo experts as well as mainstream nutritionists, fish is the number one source of animal protein for the human race today. Without any doubt or hesitation, fish in its whole state is most definitely Paleo. Besides a healthy source of protein, fish is an abundant source of Omega-3 acids, widely considered to be beneficial for promoting cardiovascular health.
While fish is often heavily processed, batter dipped and fried when used in manufactured foods and restaurant dishes, it is rather simple and easy to get whole fish in supermarkets. Most modern dietary recipes rely solely on the corporeal flesh of the fish, commonly referred to as fillets, but Paleo experts recommend consuming the entire fish including head, and skin when possible.
Nutritional Value of Fish
There are hundreds of edible species of fish but the following is a nutritional breakdown of 198 grams of raw salmon fillet, one of the most popular food fish in the world.
- Calories: 412
- Total fat: 27 grams
- Saturated fat: 6 grams
- Polyunsaturated fat: 8 grams
- Monounsaturated fat: 7 grams
- Cholesterol 109 mg
- Sodium: 117 mg
- Potassium: 719 mg
- Carbohydrates/Sugar: 0
- Protein: 40 grams
Salmon is also an excellent source of vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and magnesium.
Health Benefits of Fish
Without a doubt, fish is widely considered to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet. With zero carbohydrates or sugars and plenty of lean protein, only strict vegetarians avoid the consumption of fish.
One health issue that has come to the public’s attention in recent decades is the issue of mercury. Carnivorous fish that are located on the top of the food chain such as marlin, shark, King mackeral, tuna, swordfish, orange roughy and tilefish have higher concentrations of mercury than herbivore fish at the bottom of the food chain like anchovies, flounder, herring, salmon, (freshwater) trout, sole and sardines. Shellfish is very low in mercury and in this regard, is safe to eat. The EPA recommends that pregnant women and young children be vigilant about how much fish they consume to limit their exposure to mercury.
Where to Buy Fish
Fish is a staple among many Paleo eaters and can be found in a variety of forms, starting with raw and continuing to smoked, salted, steamed, frozen, grilled, fried and baked preparations. Depending on the quality of your supermarket, all of these forms can be had. When buying canned fish, look for brands that use BPA-free packaging such as Wild Planet and Safe Catch.
Be aware that much of today’s fish are farm-raised, grown in special pens and sometimes fed an artificial diet which may contain either GMO cereals or chemicals like PCBs. Wild-caught fish is always best.
How to Make Fish For Dinner
There are thousands of ways to make fish but below is a recipe involving the entire body of the fish (in this case, sardines) to get the maximum amount of nutrition in your diet.
- 2 cans (4-6 oz) wild-caught sardines
- 4 large lettuce leaves
- 1 medium avocado, chopped into cubes
- 1 tbsp. cilantro (optional)
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1/3 cup chopped red onions
- 1 tbsp. chopped japapeno or other spicy pepper
- 1 clove of garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp. lime or lemon juice
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- Mix the ingredients for the sauce and put aside
- Lay out the lettuce leaves as the “shells” of the taco
- Drain sardines and distribute on the lettuce “shells”
- Add two tablespoons of sauce to each taco
- Top with chopped avocado cubes
- Garnish with cilantro (if desired)
- Fold lettuce “shells” into taco shape
- Serve and enjoy!