Seafood, too good

Seafood is replete with not only nutrients, but also healing properties

lady eating fish

It’s always a great feeling to explore the treasures of the sea. No, we are not talking about gold coins, or pearls. What we are talking is something more precious and priceless: seafood.

There are delicious reasons to make seafood a must in your diet.

Fish Facts

According to folklore, seafood is good for the brain. This is also commonly associated with fish. Fatty acids found in fish oils are known as omega-3 fats. We can call them smart fats. Smart fats, from fish, are also recommended for pregnant women to improve their child’s brain development in the womb.

Studies indicate the beneficial effects of fish oils in the treatment of:

  • Adult and childhood depression
  • Reduction of suicidal tendencies in depressive patients
  • Post-partum depression [experienced by few mothers within one month following delivery]
  • Schizophrenia.

Fish oils are also useful for sleep problems, melancholy, decreased sexual desire, anxiety, and so on, too.

It’s a proven fact that Eskimos in Greenland rarely suffer from heart problems. And, what’s even remarkable is that you don’t really have to be an Eskimo to protect your heart. All you need to do is increase your fish intake from 1-2 servings per week to 5-6 servings per week. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly unsaturated in all types of seafood. These fatty acids have the unique ability to:

  • Decrease blood triglyceride levels
  • Increase HDL [“good”] cholesterol
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Reduce blood pressure in mild hypertensive individuals
  • Relax the arteries
  • Prevent blood from clotting.

All these aid in reducing the likelihood of heart-related problems.

Have you ever seen a cat with a fractured limb, or may be joint pain? The answer is no. Well, this is because of their fish-dominant diet. Good quality proteins present in fish help in building strong muscles and tissues. What’s more amazing is: fish oils can reduce your usage of detrimental pain killers. This may prove beneficial if you’re suffering from swelling, tenderness, or stiffness of joints, as seen in conditions such as arthritis. Certain seafood extracts such as mussels, and chondroitin sulphate, help in building cartilage — a boon for arthritic patients.

Are you looking for a facelift? Eat fish. Seafoods are packed with vital vitamins and minerals.

  • Vitamin A boosts immunity; it is good for toning your skin, and it improves your eyesight
  • Vitamin B [niacin] is vital for healthy skin and metabolism
  • Vitamin D, calcium and phosphorus, are essential for bones
  • Iron, for blood cell formation.
  • Zinc, for wound healing and normal sexual function
  • Iodine [found in salt water fish], for optimal thyroid functioning.

Fish oils are suggested to protect us from colon cancer, ulcers, and asthma [adults and children].

Fish tips

  • By-and-large, fish is a “fast-food.” But, unlike meat, chicken and egg, fish cooks quickly. In fact, over-cooking can harden it
  • While cooking fish curry, place the fish in cold gravy and bring it to a boil. This technique prevents the skin from shrinking
  • Purchasing fresh fish can also be an art. Always buy fish with firm flesh and clear eyes. An easy way to check its freshness is by pressing the flesh with your finger. If it leaves an impression, the fish is stale. In case of shellfish, buy it preferably “live”
  • Always store seafood below 40oF in the refrigerator. You can also store them in air-tight containers, or wrap them in cellophane
  • In case of parties, always divide hot dishes into smaller portions; keep remaining portions refrigerated until it’s time to reheat them for serving. In case of cold dishes, serve them on ice
  • You can carry seafood for picnics in coolers packed with ice.

Something’s fishy

Thank God fish don’t bring flu, but you got be careful!

  • If you are prone to allergies or sensitive to proteins, you might want to be careful about shellfish. Shellfish is one of the most common causes of skin allergy
  • You could land up with stomach pain and loose motion, if the fish is stale, or not properly stored, or cured
  • A number of people choose to eat raw fish. Frankly, it is not the best thing to do, as any animal protein can pose risk of infection
  • If you are pregnant, or a nursing mother, it is advisable to avoid fish like sword fish, king mackerel and shellfish. Also, the mercury content of these fish can be a cause for concern
  • Seafood would also not be advisable for people suffering from gout [an inflammatory condition]. Roe, a specific type of fish, is relatively high in purines that trigger elevation in blood uric acid levels, a characteristic feature of gout.

Dietician’s prescription

  • Eat a variety of fish at least twice a week. Fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, hilsa, mackerel, tuna, and herring
  • Method of preparation is equally important. To preserve the nutrients in fish, use low-fat cooking methods like baking, steaming, grilling, poaching, boiling, and sauteing
  • Shellfish like lobsters, crabs, shrimps, and prawns, are highly popular because of their unique flavour. However, you should go slow with them, due to their relatively high cholesterol content
  • If you do not like to eat fish, you could opt for cod liver oil capsules, after getting the okay from your physician
  • All forms of dried fish [cat fish, ghol, ribbon fish, Bombay duck, bhekti and surmai] are good sources of calcium and iron. These could be eaten in gravy form, or even as dried chutney
  • If you are a pure vegetarian, include foods like soybean, soy milk, tofu, flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and walnut, in your diet.

However, it’s important to remember that even the most beneficial food can be harmful, when taken in excess. Heavy doses of fish oils, for one, can sometimes induce bleeding. When eaten in moderate amounts and cooked in the right way, seafood can help you lead a longer, healthier life.

NB: Diet ideas and research findings in this article highlight the pros and cons of eating seafood. They cannot replace the value of consultation/advice with/of your physician.

Karela Fish Masale Dar

Karela Fish Masale DarPortion size: 4 pieces


Bitter gourd [karela], 4 small pcs, boneless fish, 2 fillets, onion, 1/2 cup, tomato, 1/2 cup, garlic, 2 flakes, curry leaves, a little, coriander leaves, a little, mustard seeds [rai], ? tsp, cumin seeds [jeera], 1 tsp, coriander seeds [dhania], 1 tsp, garam masala, ? tsp, turmeric powder, ? tsp, vinegar, 1 tsp, salt to taste + for rubbing, olive oil, 2 tbsp

For garnish

Grated coconut, 1 tsp, lime juice, 1 tsp


  1. Wash, scrape and make long slits on one side of bitter gourd. Discard scrapings
  2. Rub two tbsp of salt on bitter gourd. Keep it in the sun for half-an-hour
  3. Squeeze gourds between palms to remove moisture as much as possible. This reduces the bitterness of the gourd
  4. For the filling. Take one tbsp of olive oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and curry leaves in hot oil. As the mustard seeds begin to crackle, add finely chopped onion in it
  5. Add grated garlic to the mixture, saute till onion turns brownish
  6. Add finely chopped tomatoes
  7. Add masalas [jeera, dhania, garam masala, turmeric], salt, vinegar and coriander leaves
  8. Add fish, mash the entire mixture, and cook for 10 minutes
  9. Stuff the mixture in the gourd
  10. eat olive oil in a pan and shallow fry the gourd, turning constantly to ensure all sides are done
  11. arnish with grated coconut and sprinkle lime juice before serving.

Nutritional content

Energy, 320 kcal, protein, 18 gm, fat, 15 gm,

carbohydrates, 28 gm.

Magnifying lens over an exclamation markSpot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!

Payal Ahuja
Payal Ahuja is a Mumbai-based dietician and consultant. She conducts workshops on lifestyle management and weight management programmes on TV. Ahuja is also IPC-certified auditor for ISO-9001:2000, and author of the book, Combating Childhood Obesity.



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