People have been fishing for food for thousands of years throughout history. Fish are such a high source of nutritional value, they are the primary diet source of many cultures. In fact, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA), around 85 percent of fish are caught for the purpose of human consumption.
There are countless health benefits of a diet rich in fish. One portion of 150 grams of fish can provide almost 60 percent of daily protein requirements for an adult, and a healthy dose of omega-3, an important fatty acid that can help lower risk of heart disease and relieve joint pain and arthritis. Omega-3 is also vital for neurological development in babies. Fish contains high quality protein, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and D, phosphorus, magnesium and iodine.
Studies have shown that consuming fish regularly can reduce the risk of asthma in children, and it has also been linked to a 53 percent decreased risk of macular degeneration. A diet of fish can help boost immunity, increase energy, support healthy skin, reduce inflammation and stimulate growth and development. According to the World Register of Marine Species, there are over 240,000 accepted species of fish in the world as of 2017, and that number is only set to rise.
So with so many different species of fish, how do we know which ones to include in our children’s diet? Some species, such as shark and mackerel, are high in mercury, a pollutant and carcinogen. Salmon is said to be one of the healthiest, with tuna not far behind. Both types of fish can be enjoyed from a can, as canned fish tends to be a cheap, quick source of low-fat protein and vitamins. But be wary, as canned fish can sometimes contain more sodium than fresh fish. Limit your child’s fish intake to two or three serves per week in order to ensure they receive the best health benefits.