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Purchasing Frozen Fish: A Healthy Option?

Jan 1, 2011

Most people think that frozen fish is not as healthy as fresh fish. Whether or not frozen fish is a healthy option is dependent on how soon it is frozen after it is caught. Surprisingly, if the fish is frozen on the ship that caught it, that can be your healthiest option.

Flash Freezing

With flash freezing, the fish is frozen within four hours of being caught. When fish is frozen ice crystals will inevitably form in the flesh of the fish. Ice crystals come from the fish absorbing water during freezing. The crystals expand during freezing and this causes damage to the fish.

The flash freezing process lowers the temperature of the fish to minus 40 degrees. This minimizes the size of the ice crystals that form. Smaller ice crystals mean less damage to the fish. In fact, flash frozen fish is the closest thing you can get to catching it yourself.

Never buy frozen fish that is in a damaged package. Also if you can see the fish through the package, do not buy fish if you can see frost on it. Frost can mean that the fish has thawed and then been refrozen.

"Fresh Fish"

Fish that is marketed as fresh often had a week long trip to your store shelves. While it was kept on ice during the trip, it is not actually frozen. Transporting the fish on ice does minimize the decaying process of the fish. However, decay continues to occur until the fish is either eaten or frozen. Flash frozen fish halts the decaying process so that it is actually healthier than "fresh fish."

Freezing Fish Yourself

Trying to freeze fish you buy or catch fresh yourself can cause the ice crystals discussed above. The problem is that a home freezer cannot freeze your fish as quickly as the professional flash freezing process can.

If you have had the unpleasant experience of eating a soggy, rubbery piece of fish, you have experienced an improperly frozen fish. Buying properly frozen fish can eliminate that problem.

More Economical

In addition to saving the taste of your fish, you can also save money by buying frozen fish. In fact, purchasing frozen fish can save you 25 percent on your grocery bill. An added benefit to buying frozen fish is that you can have it year round. Also, you control how much you use so that you eliminate waste.

Nutritional Value

Flash frozen fish retains its nutritional value because the freezing slows down the decaying process. Freezing preserves the high-protein cholesterol-fighting effects of fish. Fish is a great source of omega-3 acids, which are heart healthy. The vitamins A, B12 and D are well preserved when fish is frozen within a few hours of being caught.

Since fresh fish often takes a week to get to the market, frozen fish can be a much healthier option for you. For the most nutritious fish, look for the words "flash frozen" on the packaging.

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