One of the major elements, components, of the Mediterranean diet is fish. Fishing was one of the occupations of the Mediterranean people since their very existence and thus fish was a basic component of their diet, found on every table in large or small quantities daily or frequently.
The most common fish in the Mediterranean sea are: Squid(kalamari), Octopus, Sardines, mackerel, red mullet ( barbouni), anchovies, smelt ( marida), sea bean, sea bass, sword fish, tuna and dentex ( synagrida). These fish are caught by different methods and techniques.
There are a lot of reasons that eating fish is better than other sources of animal protein. One reason being the fact that fish is generally lower in fat. However the most important reason is that the type off fats in seafood is the “good fats.” The most important of these are the Omega 3 fats.
Omega-3 fatty acids lower triglycerides, decrease blood clotting, are associated with decreased sudden heart attack, improve the health of your blood vessels, and help moderate blood pressure. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. Fatty fish — such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon — are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, fish is low in total fat and low in calories so it makes a great source of protein.
Fish and seafood in general are in the second level of the Mediterranean diet pyramid and this implies that they should be eaten often, at least twice a week. Eating fish a few times a week is one way to follow a healthy Med diet. However it should be noted that some fish/seafood are healthier than others and are more aligned with the Mediterranean diet. There are several criteria that will help one pick the right seafood for this Mediterranean diet plan.
The first criterion is the choice of fish with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Seafood with the highest Omega-3 fatty acids is: Snapper, Trout, Calamari, Halibut, Grouper and tuna. The second criterion is the choice of the source of fish. Find a local source that will supply you with fresh fish of your choice. If however one must consider canned seafood then canned tuna and /or sardines should be considered as they are a quick and convenient snack, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Raw fish is also an option at many sushi bars/restaurants and in this case one can choose to have raw mackerel, tuna or black caviar.
There are many ways to cook and eat fish. Basically some fish can be eaten raw, like oysters and other shell type fish found on rocks. Fish can be cooked either by frying them in olive oil or grilled on charcoal. In all the cases fish can be best eaten and enjoyed by adding on them a touch of lemon juice and they are usually accompanied with vegetables so as to complete the Mediterranean diet. Over the years however a lot of complex and interesting mediterranean recipes have been developed around fish cooking beyond the simple traditional methods.
In conclusion, we must choose the type of fish we like best and suits our taste and introduce it in our weekly diet so as to have a healthy life.