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Is canned fish healthy or a bad catch?

05/12/2017 03:11

In the foodie world, canned fish tends to get a bit of a bad rap… associations with environmental issues and, um, cat food abound.

But is there really anything wrong with this convenient and cheap source of fish? Is it nutritionally – and ethically – inferior to fresh fish, or is it just a mild case of *gasp* food snobbery? We weighed up the pros and cons to help you decide (we think you’ll like the conclusion).

Is canned fish good for you?

Um, yep! Canned fish contains just as much omega-3 fatty acids, protein and minerals as its fresh counterpart. With BPA-free cans now widely available, we don’t have to worry about toxins leaching out of the can either.

A caveat? You’ll have to watch out for added ingredients. Manufacturers can add everything from extra salt to crappy vegetable oils to sugary tomato-based sauces. Choose a can with extra virgin olive oil to bump up your omega-3 even more.

Is canned fish worse for the environment?

Australia’s weak seafood labelling laws mean that sometimes it is more reliable to choose fish from a can. Proof? Greenpeace Australia has a list of the most sustainable canned tuna brands, with Fish 4 Ever, Safcol and Coles floating to the top of the list and Greenseas dredging the bottom. You won’t have that kind of reference at your local fish and chip shop.

But in all cases, you should buy cans labelled pole and line caught fish. Sarahsays, “Less sharks, turtles, whales and dolphins will be killed. Most canned tuna is caught with nets. These scoop up and kill anything in their reach. Pole and line fishing is much more selective.”

Also, don’t limit yourself to tuna and salmon – there are plenty more fish in the sea! Tinned fish varieties like sardines and mackerel are very sustainable, and save you some messy gutting and filleting if you can’t convince your fishmonger to do it for you.

The bottom (fishing) line? Canned fish can be a solid option.

Most of the time, we’ll try and get fresh fish from a trusted and sustainable fishmonger (fresh fish always tastes better, too). But if you’re short on time, canned fish is still a good way to get your omega-3. And if that’s what it takes, we say go for it!

Here are some delicious and healthy canned fish recipes you might like to try.

Sardines and Greens

I Quit Sugar - Sardines & Greens recipe by Lola Berry

Quinoa Crusted Fishcakes

I Quit Sugar: Quinoa Crusted Fishcakes recipe from Michael Moore

Mackerel and Super Greens with Yoghurt Dressing

Mackerel and Super Greens with Yoghurt Dressing

Detox Tuna Salad


Sardine Escabeche

I Quit Sugar - Sardine Escabeche by River Cottage Australia


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