The fat content of fish is generally lower than meat and poultry.
KUALA LUMPUR - MOST people know that fish, meat and poultry are good sources of protein. Protein is required for building tissues in the body, and for repair and maintenance of such tissues.
Less well known is that legumes, nuts and seeds are also valuable sources of protein and a number of other important nutrients. In addition, they also contain several healthful bioactive substances.
Many health experts recommend the consumption of moderate amounts of fish, meat, poultry, egg, legumes and nuts. Actually, these foods are more than just body-building foods. They provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of the body, including protein, B vitamins, iron, zinc and magnesium. Several tips on how to achieve the recommendations are provided.
Fish is recommended to be consumed frequently, if possible daily. This strong recommendation is based on the positive nutritional value of fish.
Protein in fish is similar to that found in meat and poultry. The fat content of fish is variable and is generally lower than meat and poultry. The cholesterol content of fish is marginally lower than that in meat and poultry. Some fish (such as salmon, trout and herring) are high in a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) called omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have been shown to provide specific health benefits, notably in relation to cardiovascular health.
Meat and poultry
The recommendation is to consume meat and poultry in moderate amounts. Meat and poultry are a valuable source of dietary protein. They are also valuable sources of iron that is easily absorbed and utilised by the body. They also provide substantial amounts of zinc and vitamin B12.
Eggs have high nutritional value and hence are recommended for consumption by all healthy persons. They can be eaten in various forms, up to one egg every day. Eggs can become an important source of protein for children. They are also relatively less expensive compared to other animal-derived foods. Protein in eggs is of excellent quality, and the amount present is just slightly lower than in meat.
A variety of legumes and their products should be consumed daily by everyone in the family, including people who eat meat, poultry and fish regularly. These plant foods are generally recognised as alternatives to animal foods and have important nutritional factors. The protein content of legumes is generally similar to that of meat and poultry. However, they usually lack one or two amino acids (building blocks of proteins). Mixing two or more plant proteins are encouraged, such as legumes and grains or legumes and nuts or seeds so as to produce a complete protein from two incomplete ones.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds can be included in the diet, several times a week. They provide a range of nutrients and are generally pleasantly flavoured. Many types of nuts are appropriate for consumption such as almond, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. There are also different types of seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, poppy or flax seeds. Nuts and seeds are a tasty source of protein and other nutrients. Nuts are also high in fibre and rich in a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Nuts are a good source of monounsaturated fat and also contain polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, which the body needs for a number of vital processes. However, nuts are also high in fat. Hence, they should not be consumed too much. Intake of salted nuts should also be reduced as they are high in sodium.