I was recently asked to do a screen test for a big channel with my views on the next big thing in health and nutrition. I had a think about all the exciting super foods I could discuss which nutritionists love and people go crazy for like: Brazilian acai or Chinese Goji, and then I stopped in my tracks and considered all the “real life” foods I couldn’t live without from a nutritional and taste perspective, foods that are affordable , nutritious and easily available to all.
Super normal foods
The food I talked about is readily available in the supermarket and we all know and recognise it, but what’s really interesting is what most people don’t know about it in terms of:
1) Nutrient content and inherent health benefits
2) How to incorporate it into delicious, healthy recipes
3) Its impact on the environment
Tiny fish – big benefits
Sardines, you may laugh, but I can’t get enough of them. They’re my favourite fish because they’re small, highly nutritious, cheap, cheerful and beauty and brain enhancing as well as being easy to prepare and surprisingly toxin free.
Whether you eat them fresh or canned, sardines are an exceptionally rich source of B vitamins which help us balance our mood and stress response. Bony sardines also contain calcium and vitamin D, key nutrients essential for the health of our bones. You see, many people buy calcium supplements for bone health, but if only they ate bony sardines a few times a week, they would be increasing their calcium intake from natural foods sources which is way better.
Sardines are also full of Zinc and Selenium, two antioxidant minerals which are vitally important for the immune system and keeping those nasties away – especially important now with the swine flu outbreak.
Healthy, toxin free, sustainable fish choices
You may ask why I’m touting fish to be the next big thing in health and nutrition, and it’s true that most of us already consider fish to be healthy option. Nothing new there. However, within that category most people don’t truly know that much about the healthiest fish choices or even consider the wider impact their choice of fish has on the environment.
There’s a whole new fish revolution in the US called the Sardinista movement and it’s all about promoting sardines as a sustainable and healthier fish choice to rival others. Sardines don’t accumulate such high levels of mercury or toxins in the same way larger carnivorous fish such as tuna, swordfish or salmon do. They appear low down the food chain, are not overfished, feed primarily on vegetation and are therefore less exposed to toxins. So just remember, the smaller the fish, the better it is and in this instance small fry is definitely a good thing
All of these factors, i.e. good levels of nutrients, high levels of protein and omega-3s, and relatively low toxin levels make sardines an excellent choice for heath aware consumers and the increasingly eco conscious.
Satiate the senses and satisfy your inner activist
I talked about the sardine movement in the US and that trend will translate onto our shores with high-end chefs rediscovering the pleasure of fresh sardines and increasingly including them on their menus. Those who prefer home cooked food can serve them with ginger, garlic and ponzu sauce or pan-roast them with fennel for a delicious treat.
Whilst on a budget at university I devised my own dish nick named sardine bolognese. Despite such culinary naivety, I quickly realised that tinned sardines in tomato made a rich sauce with fried onions, garlic, and basil, and added to fresh tagliatele , they made a tantalising treat. Suffice to say, I became very popular and realised that men do adore a girl who can cook…
Today I’m a Harley Street nutritionist, food analyst and bona fide foodie, but I’m still passionate about these cheap treats and I recommend them to taste seekers, the health conscious, eco guilty and budget aware . They will feed your desire for taste and health, satisfy your senses and satiate your inner activist. Go sardine.