2 April 2020 | Graal Group

Many people associate a nutritionist with a person, who assembles a drastic, low-calorie diet, while the patient walks around unhappy and dreams of just eating something and while such a situation can of course sometimes happen, more often an educated specialist will take care of the patient in a wider spectrum and will not leave them to face such drastic choices.

In my office, I often come across various arguments, which unfortunately have no coverage in scientific research. A large number of them actually relate to fish and, in particular, the canned variety. So I decided to tackle the most common food-related myths. Here are some of them:

I don’t eat fish because they are “toxic”! MYTH!

Fish are not toxic. Like all meat, they may contain ingredients that are adverse for the body, but everything that ends up on our tables is usually thoroughly tested. If, for example, it turned out that some fish contained mercury levels exceeding the permissible standards, the product would simply not be allowed to be sold.

Someone else might say – what if I want to eat a lot of fish? To exceed the acceptable weekly norms of mercury, for example, one would have to eat a looooot of fish. In the case of sprats in tomatoes, for example, we are talking about 7000 grams or over 30 cans per week! You can read more about fish and heavy metals on the Sea Fisheries Institute websites.

I don’t eat fish because they are “expensive”! Fact

Some species of fish can, in fact, be expensive. This applies, for example, to tuna, salmon, or halibut. In this situation, a cheaper alternative can be canned fish, which can also be used to prepare dinner! Canned fish are … cooked fish. They are subjected to high temperatures, hence their texture.

For dinner, for example, you can use tuna in gravy as a stuffing ingredient for zucchini or peppers. Tuna will be a delicious and healthy substitute for meat, which should be limited in the diet, especially when talking about red meat.

Canned fish have “small amounts of omega acids”! MYTH

Fish, even enclosed in a can, retain all their properties. It is still a source of wholesome protein and also often due to the concentration of the product, it contains much more Omega 3 than fresh fish. To provide the appropriate weekly dose of DHA and EPA acids we would have to eat e.g. 4 kg of fresh cod! This is probably possible, for example, in Portugal, where this fish is widely available and so popular that it’s even used when making scrambled eggs!  In Poland, to achieve the same goal – a large can of herring is enough!

Canned fish are “full of preservatives”! MYTH

Canned fish usually do not contain any preservatives, because … they don’t have to. Simply canning the product is a way to extend its shelf life (just like preserving, pasteurizing, etc.). After being placed into a can, the fish is processed at a high temperature and sealed. Canning is a way to cut off oxygen from food, which is known to affect the time during which the product can be consumed. Of course, some producers will add various additives to food, but we can easily check what is on the label by ourselves. For example, you can use the Skanerka application, which accurately describes each ingredient in the product and lets us know if there are any preservatives included or not.

While at it – it is also worth remembering that a long list of ingredients does not always mean that we are dealing with a “chemical” product. Producers are required to provide the name of each ingredient used, so if for example, we buy fish in herb marinade, the list of ingredients will also be a list of the marinade itself, and it can be culinarily expanded.

I don’t eat canned fish, because “cans contain Bisphenol A”! A FACT AND A MYTH

In most fish cans, which are currently on the market, Bisphenol A is present in such small amounts that it does not pose a threat to our body. It is used for the glue, which joins the two parts of the can (the lid and the bowl). Therefore, the can is not completely covered in it. Importantly, BPA-free cans are already available on the market!

So should canned fish be eaten or not?

The Institute of Food and Nutrition has adopted the position that fish, including canned fish, should be eaten. A lack of fish in the diet is a bad scenario for our body, even if the fish itself is a product that raises various discussions. Moreover, fish – including canned ones – are classified as functional foods due to their Omega3 acid content. This means that they have been scientifically proven to have a beneficial effect on the human body. There are significantly more advantages of eating fish than potential disadvantages.

The National Food and Nutrition Institute recommends eating a minimum of 2 portions of fish per week. Such an amount should protect us against heart disease, help prevent osteoporosis, and improve our well-being. It is no secret that Omega 3 acids take care of our nervous system and, among others, protect against depression.

So let’s eat fish for good health! As a nutritionist, I have no doubt about this.

Author: Monika Sellimi, clinical nutritionist


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