Eating fish regularly is a good idea for everyone, but it’s especially beneficial for people with diabetes. Fish and shellfish contain many important nutrients and they’re also beneficial for heart health and blood sugar control. Replace some of the meat and chicken in your weekly meal plan with healthy fish or shellfish choices. Read on to learn 4 great reasons why fish should be on your menu.
1. Fish is packed with nutrients for overall health
Fish and seafood are packed with the healthy vitamins and minerals required to keep the body in good working order. Many types of shellfish are excellent sources of essential minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc and iodine. Fatty fish – such as salmon, trout, mackerel and tuna – are also great sources of vitamin D.
2. Fish helps reduce your risk of heart disease
Fish and shellfish are loaded with high-quality protein. Most fish also contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats, unlike beef, pork, and poultry fat and skin, which contain unhealthy saturated and trans fats.
Many varieties of fish are particularly high in heart-healthy omega-3 fats. These unsaturated super fats are believed to help lower blood pressure, slow hardening of the arteries, and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
People with diabetes are at greater risk of these complications, so it’s good reason to pile your plate with fish, especially oily fish. Salmon, trout, mackerel, albacore tuna and sardines pack the highest punch of omega-3 super-fats.
3. Fish helps you meet your diabetes targets
In addition to helping maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, fish is also great for people with diabetes, as it helps you reach diabetes management goals such as stable blood sugars and healthy weight targets.
Fish contains no carbohydrates, so it doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike. Most varieties of fish and shellfish are also lower in calories than meats and poultry, making them a perfect choice for weight loss diets.
4. Fish may reduce your risk of kidney disease
A study conducted in Cambridge, England, reported that two or more servings of fish each week may help people with diabetes reduce their risk of kidney disease. The research showed that among the participants with diabetes, regular servings of fish lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, and increased glucose tolerance. Importantly, it also showed a reduction of albumin (a protein) in the urine. Kidney disease, a common diabetes complication, is often associated with high levels of albumin.
Recommended fish choices and preparation
Canada’s Food Guide recommends that you enjoy a variety of fish and shellfish, including:
When buying fish and shellfish, choose:
- Fresh or frozen fish and shellfish that has not been breaded, battered, or deep-fried
- Canned fish with little to no added sodium, packed in water or broth instead of oil
Try cooking methods that use little or no added saturated fat. These include:
Nutritional information for fish
The following table lists nutrition information for various types of fish and shellfish. The serving size for each listing is 85 grams (3 ounces).
Use the slider at the bottom of the chart to reveal all of the columns of information.
|Type of fish||Calories||Protein (g)||Total fat (g)||Saturated fat (g)||Sodium (mg)||Vitamin D (mcg)|
|Cod, baked or broiled||79||17||1||0.1||59||0.5|
|Haddock, baked or broiled||84||18||1||0.1||65||0.2|
|Halibut, baked or broiled||105||20||2||0.3||52||3.6|
|Mackerel, baked or broiled||197||18||13||3.1||62||2|
|Salmon, baked or broiled||155||17||9||1.9||46||5.1|
|Salmon, canned and drained||102||17||4||0.6||299||12|
|Sardines, canned and drained||220||26||12||1.6||535||2.5|
|Shrimp, boiled or steamed||84||6||0||0.1||67||0.1|
|Sole, baked or broiled||88||18||1||0.3||43||2.2|
|Trout, baked or broiled||127||18||5||1.6||32||4.8|
|Tuna, canned in water and drained||87||19||1||0.2||254||0.9|
Seafood recipes that you will enjoy
Check out these recipes from Diabetes Care Community. You’ll find even more great recipes in the recipes section of our website:
- Salmon burger with tzatziki
- Sheet pan Greek fish with feta, tomatoes, potatoes and broccolini
- Fish fillets with sautéed peppers and balsamic reduction
- Black pepper ginger cod with rice
- White fish puttanesca
There are many benefits associated with eating fish and shellfish for people with diabetes. Choose a type of fish that you particularly like, or try something new to tempt your taste buds! For tips to help you shop for fish, check out our expert blog on navigating the grocery store for seafood.