White fish with information on vitamins, minerals, fat, oils and toxins.
Although the focus of late has been on oily fish and omega-3 essential fatty oils in particular, that does not mean to say that we should completely forget about other types of fish altogether.
There are many types of white fish that are extremely tasty, nutritious and healthy, and we are really spoilt for choice.
Health experts urge us to consume more fish and recommend a minimum of two portions of fish a week, with one portion being a white non-oily species.
After reading the following information about white fish and some of the different types in particular, we hope that you will want to experiment and try fish for your dinner. With so many different types of white fish to choose from and a great number of cooking methods to prepare it with, it is possible to add quite a few delicious and healthy recipe ideas to your growing repertoire.
Low in fat
If you sit and think about it, it makes sense that fish is very low in fat. Fish swim around all day and are constantly moving. This means that they are rich in protein and very low in fat, as most of the flesh is made up of muscle.
Some of the leanest types of fish are varieties such as perch, sole and bass, and they have around 5% body fat, whilst fish such as cod and haddock are virtually fat-free.
For people on a diet, fish is such a good alternative to red meat or even poultry. A 100 g (3½ oz) portion of steamed bass contains about 125 calories and 1.1 g of fat and the same size portion of steamed lemon sole contains only 79 calories and 1 g of fat.
Even though white fish is very low in fat, the calorie and fat content will increase if you decide to cook the fish in an unhealthy way such as deep-frying. The second way to pile on the calories is by serving the fish with a fattening sauce that contains butter or cream for example.
Good source of vitamins and minerals
As well as being an excellent source of protein, white fish types are also rich in vitamins and minerals.
Most white fish do contain small levels of vitamins A, D and E but these vitamins are found in greater quantities in oily fish.
White fish however is rich in a number of B vitamins such as niacin (B3), which is needed to promote healthy cells and to help eliminate toxins from the body and pyridoxine (B6), which keeps the skin, nervous system and red blood cells healthy.
White fish is also rich in several essential minerals such as iron, phosphorous, selenium and iodine.
Selenium and iodine are important for the correct function of the thyroid and the immune system and a deficiency of these minerals can lead to a higher risk of infection and even of contracting certain forms of cancer. Recent research has shown that there is a decline in the intake in the UK of both of these important minerals.
Fewer toxins in white fish
Unfortunately, many of our rivers are polluted with chemicals and toxins that are discharged from industrial plants and factories and pumped into our waters. The chemical toxins settle on the river and sea beds and end up being consumed by the fish that feed on the plankton and plants. These chemicals are mainly oil-soluble, which means that they will accumulate in or on anything oily. Therefore, oily fish types will contain higher traces of certain toxic residues than white fish, which only contain oil in their livers.
White fish oils
White fish do contain some fat; it is just not found in the flesh that we eat. The fat that is found in white fish is stored in their liver and we know it as certain types of fish oils. Cod liver oil is a popular and dreaded one that we may have been given as a child.
Cod and halibut liver oil nowadays comes in a tasteless capsule form (luckily for us) and many older people take a capsule a day to keep their joints supple, healthy and oiled!
Cod and halibut liver oils are rich in vitamins A and D but to obtain these vitamins from the fish, the liver oil must be consumed, as the vitamins are not found in the white flesh.
Types of white fish
There are many different types of white fish with cod probably being the most popular example in the UK and the USA.
White fish can also be classified as either "round" or "flat", depending on the shape of the fish.
Examples of white, round fish include cod, haddock, sea bass, pollack, coley, hake and whiting whilst members of the white flat fish group are plaice, sole, John Dory, halibut, flounder and turbot.
Round fish are often sold in steaks or cutlets, as their thick bodies and the way their bones are structured, make them more suited to be cut in that way, whilst flat fish are mainly sold whole or filleted. Flat fish tend to have one main central bone with a fan of smaller bones attached on either side.
Cooking methods for white fish
As white fish contain less fat within, it may dry out when prepared using certain cooking methods. When grilling or baking white fish, it is best to marinate it or cook it in a sauce, basting occasionally during the process.
It is best to cook white fish using a method such as steaming or poaching, so that most of the moisture and flavour is retained.
When frying white fish, it is best to protect the fish by coating it in flour or breadcrumbs. This will protect the flesh from the flavour of the oil and also prevent it from drying out.
Many types of white fish are quite delicate in texture and in flavour, so care must be taken when preparing it so that the flavour is not overpowered by other ingredients and the texture is not destroyed by unsuitable cooking methods.
More often than not, the best tasting fish is prepared in the simplest of manners with the smallest amount of additional ingredients.