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HEALTHY FOODS — By Mini Padikkal — Fish is
wholesome and nutritional food without any kind of side effects. During Ramadhan,
fish consumption is highly recommended because it is a storehouse of nutrition.
Take the case of sardines which are found throughout the oceans of the world.
Sardines are fish that are quite small in size, but not small in nutrition. In
fact the health benefits of eating sardines are far greater than their size.
Sardines are cold water fish that are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids,
protein and calcium. They are also very high in other vitamins and minerals and
one portion provides about a third of an adult’s daily needs of iron and vitamin
E, and a whole day’s requirement of vitamin B12 and selenium. Vitamin B-12 is
very important to the proper functioning of your immune system and central
Sardines are rich in numerous nutrients that have been found to support
cardiovascular health. They are one of the most concentrated sources of the
omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have been found to lower triglycerides
and cholesterol levels. Also vitamin B12, which promotes cardiovascular health
as it is intricately tied to keeping levels of homocysteine in balance.
Homocysteine can damage artery walls, with elevated levels being a risk factor
for atherosclerosis. The American Heart Association recommends that healthy
adults eat at least two servings of fish a week.
Sardines offer about 400 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per ounce. For those who
suffer from coronary heart disease, the AHA recommends a total of 1 gram per day
of the omega-3s EPA and DHA, which you can obtain from supplements, or from
sardines. Those who need to lower their triglycerides should consume 2 to 4 gm
daily of these two omega-3 fatty acids; look for a supplement that contains an
ideal ratio of EPA: DHA of 3:2. serving of sardines which provides all the daily
omega-3s recommended by the AHA for patients with coronary heart disease.
Then there’s your skin. Sardines are high in antioxidants, which benefit the
health of your skin, and Omega 3 essential fatty acids are also extremely good
for your skin, particularly for maintaining skin moisture. These are the fats
found in fish oil supplements.
l A 3 oz/75g serving supplies as much calcium as a glass of milk-300 milligrams.
Sardines are a superb source of bone-building calcium and contain surprisingly
high concentrations of vitamin D, a nutrient not so readily available in the
diet. Vitamin D prevents unwanted inflammation and helps bones to absorb
l Sardines are a great source of phosphorus too, a key mineral in strengthening
the bone matrix. Recent studies also show that the omega-3s found in abundance
in sardines support joint cartilage and help regulate and stabilise the balance
of collagen and minerals in bone and surrounding tissue.
l The high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids in sardines offer substantial
protection against macular degeneration of the eye, a condition in which fine
vision deteriorates, resulting in central vision loss and is the leading cause
of blindness in people over 50 years.
Ounce for ounce, sardines provide more protein than steak, more potassium than
bananas and more iron than cooked spinach. Sardines are usually eaten canned,
which retains most of the nutrients of fresh sardines, but fresh sardines are a
healthy treat. So eat lots of sardines, canned or fresh, for all those good
nutrients in sardines. Not only that, whereas many fish are becoming
contaminated with industrial toxins like Mercury, mainly fish which are at the
top of the food chain, sardines, being at the bottom of the food chain, are a
clean food source. If you find truly fresh sardines, simplicity is the key.
Enjoy the rich flavour of the fresh fish by steaming it with little salt, lemon
and olive oil.
— The writer is a dietician at Atlas star Medical Centre, Al Khuwair, Muscat.
( Courtesy: The Oman Observer.
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