Nutrition experts have long advised Canadians to eat fish twice a week as part of healthy diet. It's high in protein, low in cholesterol-raising saturated fat and a good source of many vitamins and minerals.
These days you don't have to make a special trip to the fishmonger to reel in your dinner. If you like your fish mild tasting and hassle-free, frozen fish sticks are a convenient option. And they're a popular way to introduce kids to eating seafood.
But not all frozen fish sticks are a good catch. Extras such as vegetable oil, bread crumbs, salt and seasonings can undo the benefits of your frozen fish.
President's Choice Breaded Fish Fillet Nuggets don't make the cut.
They start out with a healthy ingredient: Alaskan Pollock, a mild-tasting fish that's wild caught and certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as a sustainable fish from an environmental standpoint. But the "crisp, tasty breading", made of refined wheat (a.k.a. white) crumbs, wheat flour, modified corn starch and other additives, adds only 1 gram of fibre to a 93 gram serving (3 nuggets).
There is, however, plenty of salt. Three nuggets serve up 500 milligrams of sodium, half a days worth for young kids. And just because you bake them, don't think they're fat free. PC Breaded Fish Fillet Nuggets are fried in canola oil before they reach your shopping cart.
Nutritional value of three President's Choice Breaded Fish Fillet Nuggets (93 grams)
9 grams fat
1 gram saturated fat
0 grams trans fat
500 milligrams sodium
1 gram fibre
11 grams protein
A better choice is Life Choices Whole Fillet Fish Sticks. Also made from wild-caught Alaskan pollock, these fish sticks aren't pre-fried in oil and, as a result, contain a fraction of the fat. The multi-grain breading includes whole grains such as whole wheat, ground flax, rye meal and millet and makes one serving a good source of fibre (4 grams per 3 fish sticks). What's more, they're free of additives and preservatives and contain a respectable 250 milligrams of sodium per serving.
Nutritional value of three3 Life Choices Whole Fillet Fish Sticks (100 grams)
3 grams fat
0.4 grams saturated fat
0 grams trans fat
250 milligrams sodium
4 grams fibre
12 grams protein
Keep in mind that store-bought fish sticks typically contain pollock, haddock, sole or cod. All are great sources of protein, but they are lower in omega-3 fats than salmon, trout and sardines.
Final tip: Be careful what you dip your fish sticks in. A generous dollop of mayonnaise-based tartar sauce can add 140 calories and 14 grams of fat to your meal. Pass the lemon wedge please.
Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is the national director of nutrition at BodyScience Medical. She can be seen every Thursday at noon on CTV News Channel's Direct. www.lesliebeck.com