White and Oily Fish, Fish Products & Diabetes.

While Oily Fish get all the Omega 3 fats credit. Both Oily Fish and White Fish are recommended foods, try one or more portion of each in a week. Pity 7 out 10 of us in the UK don't.


What are Oily Fish?

Anchovies, Carp, Eel, Herring, Kipper, Mackerel, Pilchards, Salmon, Sardine, Swordfish, Trout & Tuna are all Oily Fish. Oily Fish have 5% or more fat in the fish.

They have more fat than white fish so also contain more calories. All are however recommended as a source of Omega 3 fat which is good for the heart, aim to have a portion (140g or 5oz) of oily fish once or (better) twice a week.

Pollution and Oily Fish.

Alas but ... pollution is a problem. Oily fish concentrate some of these pollutants in their fat, so there is a recommended weekly upper limit for oily fish.

Exceeding these occasionally is not a problem, they are long term limits, if you eat lots of oily fish every week.

June 2004 advice from the Food Standards Agency recommends a maximum limit of 280g (10 oz) of oily fish per week for girls and women of child bearing age. With a limit of 560g (1lb 4oz) for everyone else.

Oily Fish are a recommended food, especially for diabetic's who are generally more at risk of heart disease.

Smoked Fish.

Smoked oily fish retain most of the heart healthy Omega 3 fat but are frequently high in salt.

There is also a lot of colouring used in some smoked fish, some claim that colouring affects them.

The pale undyed smoked cod/haddock though tastes just as good as the vivid bright yellow dyed cod and haddock, try it!

Reducing Salt in Kippers.

Remove the kippers from any packaging, separate them (if they have been packed into a tight block) then bring the kippers briefly to the boil in water. Its a easy way to cook them that reduces salt too.

Smoked cod and smoked haddock can be cooked this way too. With thicker fish needing a few minutes extra time, simmering at the boil.

Fish: Canned in Tomato Sauce or Olive Oil?

Both are healthy options but there are more calories in fish canned in olive oil than tomato sauce. If you are trying to lose weight go for tomato sauce or drain the olive oil.
Oily Fish
Fish with more than 5% fat are called oily fish and are good for the heart.
Sugar Absorption Rate Notes: Oily Fish are high in Omega 3 Fats and are recommended for a healthier heart.
AnchoviesVery Slow From taste they are very salty, salt content however is not shown on the label.

If you want less salty anchovies. Try Ikea's Swedish Anchovies (external link) which are less salty and quite different and may be worth a try.

CarpVery Slow 
EelVery Slow 
HerringVery Slow 
Kipper (Smoked Herring)Very Slow Kippers like many smoked fish may be high in salt.
Mackerel on Ice
Very Slow In tomato sauce they have a small amount of carbohydrate.

Smoked Peppered Mackerel is my favourite 119p for 200g (7oz), Aldi - September 2005. Not expensive and worth trying if you are on a budget (or not).

Oily Fish
Very Slow Canned or Fresh a excellent source of Omega 3 fat.

Red Salmon containing more fat (and Omega 3 fat too) than Pink Salmon.

SardinesVery Slow In tomato sauce they have a small amount of carbohydrate.

Not expensive and worth trying if you are on a budget (or not).

SpratVery Slow Never actually seen one for sale as a Sprat but apparently another name for Anchovy.
SwordfishVery Slow 
TroutVery Slow A little lower in Omega 3 Fat than many other oily fish. Also less rich in other fats (and calories) than other oily fish.
Canned Tuna, no Omega 3 Fats and lower calorie.
Very Slow Fresh Tuna retains Omega 3 Fats.While Tuna is an oily fish, canning removes most of the fat. Only fresh (or frozen) Tuna is a source of Omega 3 Fat.

Canned though its an excellent low fat, low calorie alternative.

Fish ProductsSugar Absorption RateNotes.
Fish Fingers, Breaded Fish, Battered Fish, Fish Cakes, ... UnknownUnfortunately most of the bread, potato or batter in these products is usually highly refined and quickly converted to blood sugar. They may also be high in fat.

Choose wholemeal versions if possible and grill rather than fry. Check the labeling and choose items with a large proportion of fish (that is not to much batter, bread, potato ...). Treat as a source of carbohydrate.

if you have reduced potato and still wish to make fish cakes. Try using sweet potato optionally with onions and carrots.

It makes a healthier fish cake counting towards the 5 vegetables a day, it has a slower conversion to blood sugar.

It is more expensive and doesn't seem to want to brown if you grill or bake it though!

White FishSugar Absorption RateNotes.
White FishVery Slow Cod, Coley, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, Plaice, Sole, Turbot, Whiting ... etc. All recommended as healthy low fat, low calorie options. Try to minimise any added animal fat during cooking.

Cod (and Halibut) Liver oil is also a good source of Omega 3 fat too.

External Links.

Fish: Typical Food Group & Sodium Content.

Percentages are based on product labels. Canned fish figures are for drained weights apart from fish in tomato sauce.

Canned Fish.Calories in 100g (3½oz)Protein Carbohydrate
   Total Fat
Anchovies in Olive Oil (Princes Apr 2005) **19812.3% 0.0%
? but High
Mackerel in Tomato Sauce (Aldi: Ocean Rise May 2005)
2% Omega 3 Fat
17420.2% 1.9%
Salmon Red Wild (Princes Apr 2005)16618.9% Nil
Sardines in Tomato Sauce (Asda Apr 2005) **16417% 1.4
Shrimps in Brine (Princes Sep 2004) **7717% 0.7
Tuna Chunks in Brine (Asda Apr 2005)9723% Trace
Frozen Fish.Calories in 100g (3½oz)Protein Carbohydrate
   Total Fat
Smoked Haddock Fillets Frozen, Colouring: Curcumin & Annatto (Youngs Apr 2005)8520.2% Trace

Note: There is no fibre in Fish, Fish in Tomato Sauce may be up to 0.1% Fibre.
* Multiple the Sodium value by 2.5 to get the Salt equivalent.
** Small cans of fish seem to have lower labeling standards,
some information is missing.