Oily fish: properties and health benefits


It’s tasty, it’s cheap, it lends itself to the preparation of many recipes and gives us many nutrients that are beneficial to health, especially omega 3, “good” fats of which it is particularly rich. Let’s find out all the reasons to bring oily fish to the table and how to enjoy it.

Blue fish: what is it

The expression “blue fish” refers to a category of saltwater fish which have a common feature: the back color blue. It includes several species of fish mostly belonging to the order of Clupeiformes, or sardine, herring e anchovy or anchovybut the large bluefish family also includes other species, such as mackerel, utensils e sugarello. And the salmon? Technically, salmon is not an oily fish, but it is often assimilated to this type of fish because, like them, it is very rich in omega 3 fats. Oily fish are mostly size smallrather cheap, so much so that they are often considered “poor” fish, and they have very tasty and healthy meats. In addition to the color, there is another quality that distinguishes them: a very valuable nutritional profile. Let’s get to know them better.

The nutritional properties of oily fish

The oily fish stands out above all for its richness of omega 3, polyunsaturated fatty acids which in this category of fish are particularly abundant and which, as we will see, many studies have associated with numerous beneficial effects, especially for cardiovascular and cerebral health and for the prevention of tumors.
Among oily fish, the primacy of the highest omega 3 content belongs to fresh herring, which provides 2.3 mg per 100 g. Followed by fresh mackerel, with 2 mg per 100 g, sardines, with 1.7 mg per 100 g, and anchovies, with 0.8 mg of omega 3 per 100 g.

Furthermore, like all fish, blue fish is also an excellent source of high quality organic protein, i.e. rich in all the essential amino acids that our body needs: it contains around 15-20%, like beef. To these nutrients are added vitaminsin particular the D and the B12e mineral salts come iodine (fish provides, on average, between 50 and 100 micrograms per 100 g), zinc e selenium. Anchovy also stands out for its high content of ferro (2.8 mg per 100 g), while mackerel and herring are excellent sources of potassium (more than 300 mg per 100 g). L’caloric intake It’s content: varies from about 100 calories per 100 grams of anchovies to just over 200 of herring. The sardine provides 130, the mackerel 170.

The health benefits of oily fish

As we have mentioned, the benefits of oily fish are mainly linked to its high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids of the omega 3 series. Unlike cholesterol and saturated fats, which if consumed in excess increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancerto omega 3 are recognized protective effects specifically against these pathologies. These fats, in fact, play aanti-inflammatory, antiplatelet and vasodilator action which makes them important for preventing cardiovascular disease, improve brain function e strengthen the immune defences. In particular, they contribute to reduce cholesterol, especially the bad one, preventing it from accumulating in the blood causing atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the formation of plaques on the walls of the arteries which can narrow until they become blocked and increase the risk of heart attack and ischemia. According to many studies, omega 3s also help slow down the degeneration of brain cells, preserving brain functionality.

Oily fish, like all fish, is also very important for health good thyroid function thanks to its iodine and selenium content, essential mineral salts for the metabolism of thyroid hormones.

Furthermore, the richness of vitamin D makes it very precious for the skeletal healthbecause this vitamin promotesintestinal absorption of calcium and its fixation in the bones, fortifying them and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.

Between vitaminsthe good content of those stands out of group Bin particular the B1, the B3 and the B12, which favor the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteinsprotect the functioning of the nervous system and help to counter the tiredness.

Oily fish: how many times a week to eat it?

The guidelines for a healthy diet of CREA (Research Center for Food and Nutrition) recommend consuming the fish, both fresh and frozen, at least 2-3 times a week: not only oily fish, but also other varieties of fish, molluscs and crustaceans. Thanks to its mix of noble proteins, vitamins, mineral salts and good fats, fish represents an excellent alternative to meat, eggs and other protein sources.

Recipes with blue fish

In Italy, many traditional recipes see blue fish as protagonists. Among the many, we mention the sarde in cheap, a typical appetizer of Venetian cuisine in which fried sardines are flavored in a marinade, the saor in fact, based on onions cooked in vinegar with pine nuts and raisins. Among the national specialties based on oily fish there are also the Sarde A Beccafico, a second course of Sicilian cuisine in which the sardines are rolled up to form a roll, stuffed with breadcrumbs, pine nuts and raisins, covered with an emulsion of honey, oil and orange juice and cooked in the oven. In Veneto, a poor dish of the peasant tradition is la polenta and rengaor polenta with herring, while the anchovies in pestoflavored with oil, chopped parsley, garlic and chilli pepper, are a typical preparation of Tuscan cuisine.
The strong taste of oily fish makes it suitable for making very simple but still very tasty recipes. It is excellent as a second course, cooked in the oven baked in foil or au gratin, grilled, to the pizza maker with tomato, fried and marinated with oil and vinegar or used as a base for burger e meatballsbut it is also ideal for enriching the mixed salads and goes well with first courses of pasta and rice: prova i nostri spaghetti with anchovies where he cous cous all sardines.

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