"Benefits of fish" As analysed by a Nutritionist

Hajiya Jummai Hassan, a nutritionist at the Wuse General Hospital, FCT, has advised people to incorporate more fish into their diet, as there exist enormous nutritious components from it.

She said in Abuja that fish was a low fat, high quality protein food that contains vitamins D, which benefits skin and the bones.

“It also has vitamin B 2, also known as riboflavin, a micro nutrient that helps the body’s cells to create energy.’’

According to Hassan, the human body cannot produce significant amounts of some of these essential nutrients; therefore, fish should be included in every balanced diet.

She said that fish was also rich in calcium, phosphorus and minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium and potassium.

“These dietary minerals are essential for a variety of bodily functions.

“They build bones, teeth, blood, skin, hair, muscle and enable nerve function and the metabolic processes.”

Hassan said that oily fish has high omega 3 fatty acids, also known as the “good fats’’ and was low in the `bad fats’ commonly found in red meat, called omega 6 fatty acids.

“Bad fats also known as saturated fats and `trans fats’, increases the risk of disease and elevate cholesterol, and in appearance, tend to be solid at room temperature.

“Good or unsaturated fats, tend to be liquid at room temperature and help in the production of good cholesterol, which is necessary for blood circulation.”

Hassan said that recent studies had shown that consuming fish oil lowers blood pressure and in doing so, also reduces the risk of heart diseases.

The nutritionist explained that omega 3 which was produced in significant amount by the fish, contains Dicosapentaenoic acids (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acids (DHA), considered by scientists to be the building blocks of the brain.

According to her, this is why fish is considered by many people to be a brain food.

“This also explains why fish has also been incorporated into the diet of people in the treatment for Depression, Psychosis, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Alzheimer’s disease, and other brain disorders.’’

Hassan explained that fish oil has always been given to babies because even traditional medicine recognises its benefits.

The nutritionists explained that fish oil, which is in the tissue of oily fish, can be gotten by taking fish oil supplements or by eating oily fish.

She urged people to also take caution while preparing fish in order not to destroy its nutritional value or to negate its benefits.

Hassan said that steaming was probably the best method of cooking fish because it preserves a lot of its properties.

“By the time you fry it, you are adding oil and when you boil it, you add water and the nutrients are washed away. But when you steam it, all its nutrients are intact.” (NAN)

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