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Fish and Nutrients

About the nutrients in fish

Fish Nutritional Profile
Energy value (calories per serving): Moderate
Protein: High
Fat: Low to moderate
Saturated fat: Low to moderate
Cholesterol: Moderate
Carbohydrates: Low
Fiber: None
Sodium: Low (fresh fish)
High (some canned or salted fish)
Major vitamin contribution: Vitamin A, vitamin D
Major mineral contribution: Iodine, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, calcium

About the Nutrients in Fish
Like meat, poultry, milk, and eggs, fish are an excellent source of high-quality proteins with sufficient amount of all the essential amino acids.

Most fish have less fat than most meats per serving, and the fats in fish are less saturated. For example, a 4-ounce serving of baked bluefish has 6 g fat (4.1 g saturated fat) and 86 mg cholesterol; a 4-ounce serving of lean sirloin has 9 g fat (4.7 g saturated fat), and 101 mg cholesterol. The most prominent fats in fish are omega-3 fatty acids: ecosapentaenoic acid (EPA), dicosahexanoic acid (DHA), and the essential fatty acid linolenic acid. Omega-3s, also found in human breast milk, are most abundant in fish living in cold waters (anchovy, herring, mackerel, menhaden, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna).


Fish oils are one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D. Salmon also has vitamin A derived from carotenoid pigments in the plants eaten by the fish. The soft bones in some canned salmon and sardines are an excellent source of calcium. CAUTION: DO NOT EAT THE BONES IN RAW OR COOKED FISH. THE ONLY BONES CONSIDERED EDIBLE ARE THOSE IN TILE CANNED PRODUCTS.

The Most Nutritious Way to Serve Fish
Cooked, to kill parasites and potentially pathological microorganisms living in raw fish. Broiled, to liquify fat and eliminate the Eat-soluble environmental contaminants found in some freshwater fish. With the soft, mashed, calcium-rich bones (in canned salmon and canned sardines).

Diets That May Restrict or Exclude Fish
Low-purine (antigout) diet
Low-sodium diet (canned, salted, or smoked fish)

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