Can fish and chips be a healthy choice? Our Nutrition Clinic Expert gives her top tips
National Fish and Chip Day 2021, which is organised by The National Edible Oil Distributors’ Association (NEODA), celebrates this iconic British dish. Britons eat approximately 382 million meals from fish and chip shops every year, including 167 million portions of fish and chips, the traditional favourite, with 80% of people visiting a fish and chip shop at least once a year.
Fish and chips are considered by some people to be a better, more natural choice of takeaway foods available because fish are high in protein and provide Omega-3, which is protective to the heart and brain, helping to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease; vitamin D; iodine, which supports thyroid function; the antioxidant, selenium and also iron. There has also recently been interest in a protein in fish, known as parvalbumin, which may perhaps offer protection against Parkinson’s disease.
However, a portion of fish and chips from the chip shop can deliver as much as 50g of saturated fat – more than twice the 20g recommended limit – and its total fat content can be as much as 90g. Also, a medium portion of chips gives about 120g carbs and 1000 cals. Together, our fish and chips will contribute to an expanding waistline. They are often topped with a liberal shaking of salt, which is not good for your blood pressure.
In the TV series, ‘Fat Friends’ the chip shop owner, played by Alison Steadman, recommended removing the batter and eating only the steamed fish within. It’s not a bad principle, but can be a little messy!!
Healthier fish and chips
A balanced diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish. Mostly go for grilled, baked or microwaved fish, served with salad or vegetables but for an occasional treat you can still enjoy your fish and chips. By making simple swaps you can make it more nutritious and delicious:
- Wedges – cut sweet potatoes into wedges, lightly paint them with extra virgin olive oil, using a pastry brush and roast in the oven, but keep the portion sizes small to reduce your carb intake. Also, not peeling the potatoes means you get more fibre in your diet and they are quicker to prepare.
- Breadcrumbs – ditch the batter; you can use wholemeal breadcrumbs, and bake in the oven. Below is a recipe for multi-seeded goujons.
- 2lb = 900g approx. of plaice strips (ask the fishmonger to prepare for goujons)
- 6 tbsp wholemeal flour
- 1 cup of wholemeal breadcrumbs
- 4 tbsp sunflower seeds
- 4 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 3 eggs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil and 50g (2oz) of melted butter
- ½ – 1 teaspoon salt, 15 grinds of black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- Prepare 2 baking trays with a sheet each of foil well-greased with olive oil
- Prepare 3 bowls, the former with flour mixed with the seasonings (salt, pepper and paprika)
The 2nd bowl has the eggs beaten with the oil and butter mix.
The 3rd bowl has the breadcrumbs and seeds, well stirred.
Set oven at 180 deg C. Dip each goujon initially in flour, then in egg, allowing surplus to run off and lastly in the breadcrumb mixture, spooning further mixture over the goujon, until fully covered then lay the goujons side by side on the baking tray. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown in colour.
- Tartare sauce – rich sauces are often loaded with sugar and salt, and can add lots of hidden calories to your meals. By making your own healthy alternative, you can ensure that you stay on track. A simple recipe for tartare sauce is:
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- Pinch of salt and black pepper
- Pinch of dried or fresh dill
- Pinch of cayenne (optional)
- 1 tablespoon of finely diced dill pickles
- 1 tablespoon of finely diced capers
– Simply mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover the mixture and chill it for about 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend. Give the sauce one more stir before serving.
Author Dr Jackie Rose, a Nutritional Therapist heads up the Nutrition Clinic at Private GP Extra. Dr Rose is an experienced GP (recently retired from practice) who specialises in nutrition and has co-written a Healthy Eating Cook Book. Find out more here https://www.privategpextra.com/nutrition-private-gp-extra/