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Health Benefits Of Fish Sticks (Fish Fingers) With Baked Beans

Two Fish Fingers
Two Fish Fingers

Health Benefits of Fish Sticks (Fish Fingers) with Baked Beans

Tasty, nutritious, and one of the ultimate convenience foods, fish sticks, or fish fingers as they are known here in the UK, have long been a staple on the evening dinner table for many kids around the world. If you are anything like me, perhaps you are one of the millions of adults who still enjoy fish sticks as a very cheap and efficient way of getting some essential nutrition into our bodies on a regular basis.

But what nutrients do we exactly get from fish stick, and what good do they do us?

Before we get the oven on ready to cook them for dinner and the baked beans and tomato sauce in the pan heating as a very tasty accompaniment, let’s have a closer look at the goodness in this worldwide, classic, quick-and-easy meal.

Kids, if your parent’s aren’t getting you enough of your favorite meal, here’s a few good reasons that you can give them to buy more of it. And for new students just away from home who have parents worried about if you are getting enough wholesome nutritional food, all you need to do next time they phone and ask if you are eating well is reel off the list of nutrients included in this dish (let’s face it, it’s probably all you are eating!), and you will set their mind at rest until you next return home and they see the state that you’ve got yourself into without mum’s home-cooked meals!

Too many beans to count!
Too many beans to count!

Fish Sticks (Fish Fingers): A Brief History

Fish Sticks first appeared on the world stage in a recipe in the UK newspaper The Tamworth Herald on Saturday, June 30th 1900. The recipe read as follows:

“TASTY FISH FINGERS (Note: Readers from USA and Canada take note, "fish fingers," not "fish sticks," is the original and correct name for this food item!) A very useful breakfast dish can be prepared as follows: Flake and mince any cold cooked fish very finely, and mix it with two-thirds its bulk of cold cooked rice; season to taste with pepper, salt, and minced parsley, mixing it into cakes with the white of an egg; shape these neatly, brush with beaten egg, cover with breadcrumbs, and fry in plenty of hot fat to a delicate golden brown; drain well, and serve.”

Luckily, in 1953 in the UK, the Birdseye company released their mass produced fish finger product on to the open market, thereby freeing up much time students had previously spent flaking and mincing cold, cooked fish very finely and all the rest to make fish fingers. This meant that students could spend far more time studying and/or drinking. Fish sticks reached the mass market in the United States at roughly the same time, and they were a huge success on both sides of the Atlantic.

Cod may not have fingers, but they often turn into them!
Cod may not have fingers, but they often turn into them!

Health Benefits of Fish Fingers (Fish Sticks)

Based on a 150 gram portion of standard fish sticks you will get the following nutritional benefits, amongst others:

Iodine– A 150g portion of Fish Sticks will give you a whopping 105% of your daily recommended intake of iodine. Iodine is an essential nutrient which plays a role in maintaining a healthy thyroid function, metabolism, growth, reproduction, and development.

Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is responsible for helping to turn fats and proteins into energy and also protects against heart disease and cancers. One 150g portion of fish sticks will give you 63% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12.

Selenium – Selenium is an essential nutrient that helps promote immunity in the body and also produces a number of antioxidants that prevent damage from free radicals and inflammation. Selenium also plays a large role in maintaining a healthy metabolism. One 150g serving of fish sticks gives you 52% of your daily selenium.

Phosphorus – Phosphorus is essential for growth, and it is also vital for maintaining healthy bones, teeth and gums. A 150g dish of Fish Sticks will give you 52% of your required daily phosphorus intake.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Omega-3 is once again a vital ingredient in our diets, playing a role in helping to prevent heart disease and strokes and has also been shown to play a role in helping prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative cognitive conditions. To get the maximum benefit and keep your brain in tip top condition, why not combine your fish fingers with some green leafy veg of the cruciferous family, which has also been shown to play a significant role in cognitive health and memory function. One 150g portion of fish sticks will give you 30% of your daily Omega-3 requirement.

*It should be noted that the above statistics for fish sticks come from a standard packet of fish fingers in the UK. Nutrient levels will vary from brand to brand and country to country. For instance, I checked a packet of U.S. fish sticks for comparison and the amount of saturated fat was significantly higher compared to most UK brands, so it is advisable to read the label before you purchase so you know exactly what you are getting.

Baked beans are tasty with pork pies, but healthier with Fish Sticks (Fish Fingers)
Baked beans are tasty with pork pies, but healthier with Fish Sticks (Fish Fingers)

Health Benefits of Beans

Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce

Once again a standard favorite in many countries around the world, baked beans in tomato sauce are packed full of goodness and so quick and easy to make. Whilst potentially a great choice for diabetics, due to the low GI (Glucose Index) of tomatoes and beans, some manufacturers will pack the tomato sauce that accompanies the beans with lots of sugar to make up for the lack of natural flavor in their brand. Be careful and always read the label first if you are in a ‘at risk’ category.

Health Benefits of Beans

Beans Fight Diabetes – Beans are full of complex carbohydrates and protein that give you ‘slow release’ of energy throughout the day rather than the ‘quick release’ you get from less complex carbohydrates. This is a great food for those suffering with diabetes, as long as you keep in mind that some manufacturers will have more sugar in their tomato sauce than others.

Heart Disease – Beans are high in soluble fiber and also contain saponins and phytosterols. All these elements are essential for helping to maintain a healthy level of cholesterol in our bodies and can also help in the lowering of ‘bad’ ldl cholesterol and raising of ‘good’ hdl cholesterol.

Weight Loss – As we mentioned previously, beans contain complex carbohydrates which give you ‘slow release’ energy. One by-product of this is that after eating them you will be left feeling fuller for longer, hence your likelihood to snack or urge to eat something unhealthy will be diminished. Yup, baked beans are an ideal food to include in balanced and healthy weight loss regime (once again, check the amount of sugar in the sauce)

Help Prevent Cancer – Studies have shown that the consumption of beans can play a role in helping to prevent some cancers. This is due to the presence of isoflavones and phytosterols.

Tomato sauce.  Yummy and very healthy!
Tomato sauce. Yummy and very healthy!

The Health Benefits of Tomato Sasuce

There are so many benefits to consuming tomatoes, I could write a whole article on it. In fact, I have written a number of articles on the benefits of tomatoes, check my profile if you're interested.

There are lots of ways to consume tomatoes, but it turns out that one of the best ways to get the most nutrients out of them is eating them in a processed form and heating them. That being the case, gently heating your tin of beans in a saucepan will be about as good as you can get to benefit from the array of healthy advantages available from the tomato element of this meal.

Anti-Aging – Studies have shown that individuals who consume processed tomato products on a regular basis show increased levels of pro-collagen. Pro-collagen gives the skin structure and loss of it causes the skin to age. The study also showed that regular consumption could help protect people with fair skin from some of the effects of sunburn. Scientists suggested that including tomato products in the diet on a regular basis could be the equivalent of wearing a factor 1.5 sun cream all year round!

Heart Health – Tomatoes, or, more accurately lycopene, which is the gooey liquid present around the seeds of tomatoes, has a huge role to play in heart health. Some studies have suggested that regular consumption of tomatoes could be effective as statins in reducing ldl cholesterol and raising levels of ‘healthy’ hdl cholesterol. If you or your family have a history of heart disease, tomatoes are an absolutely essential ingredient in helping you manage and reduce your risk of heart disease or strokes.

Anti-Cancer – The presence of carotenoids in tomatoes has a role to play in helping to prevent cancer. Regular consumption is believed to help reduce the risk of developing breast, prostate and lung cancer.

Reduces Risk to Tobacco Users - Whilst smoking is never going to be a healthy choice, a number of nutrients have been found in tomatoes which help prevent the damage done by the cancer-causing carcinogens produced by smoking tobacco.

Maintain Healthy Bones – Studies have shown that eating tomatoes on a regular basis will reduce oxidative stress to bones and unwanted changes to bone tissue. It will also help prevent the early onset of osteoporosis, or brittle bones, especially for women.

There you have it, who would have thought there would have been so many health benefits from a humble pirate’s platter of fish sticks and baked beans?

So, now you know!

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