istock-914682800-888647548.jpg

Fish is a fan favorite for mealtime for a few obvious reasons. From the variety of ways it can be prepared to the various fish types available, it one of the most versatile mealtime staples. It is also one of the healthier dinner time choices thanks to the omega-3 fats. If you are looking to add this delicious staple to your meal rotation, you may have some questions about baking fish vs. frying. There are a few things to know regarding baking fish vs. frying.

Benefits of Fish

Why is fish such a popular dining choice? Aside from the variety and flavor, it is one of the healthiest options and has been linked to lowering heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. It also helps with brain function and may aid in reducing the effects of such conditions as Alzheimer’s and depression. The bottom line is that fish is packed with important nutrients such as omega-3 fats and vitamin D which are both hard to come by through other food sources in the same high levels as fish. Fish is also ideal for those trying to lose weight since it offers high-quality protein and a lower fat content. While it is rich in omega-3 fats, these are considered good fats compared to the fats found in other main dishes. Now that you know why fish is good for you, the matter of how to cook it is definitely worth considering.

Frying Fish

While there is no denying that fish is a great choice with a lot of benefits, the way you prepare it matters a great deal in how much of those benefits you actually reap. While we all know fried foods are generally not the healthiest choice for obvious reasons, many people falsely believe the negative impacts are negated when the fried item is something as healthy as fish. Let’s take a look at how frying is different from baking.

When fish is fried, there are two ways of frying it. The first option is called pan-frying and the other option is called deep-frying. Pan-frying uses a small amount of fat such as oil or grease to cook the fish in a pan on the stove whereas deep-frying submerges the fish in a much larger store of fat. Why does this matter? For starters, it changes the fat content and the types of fats overall. The main thing to look at when comparing baking fish vs. frying is the fat content. While omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats are both healthy fats found in fish, too much omega-6 fat can lead to inflammation and too much fat intake for your dietary needs. Since the oil naturally used in the deep-drying process is already high in fat, it can make the omega-6 fats even higher. Deep frying fish can also greatly increase the calories and turn an otherwise healthy dish into an unhealthy one by that factor alone. Many people think deep frying lean fish instead of fatty fish will negate the overabundance of omega-6 fats, but in actuality, leaner fish absorbs even more oil during deep-frying than fattier fish. If you are looking to fry fish, the better option of the two is always pan-frying. With pan-frying, the fat content is lowered because there is less oil used in cooking over deep frying. There is also the option of pan-frying in healthier oils, such as olive oil, as opposed to the type of grease used in deep frying which is typically more like lard than an oil. .

Baking or Frying?

Of course, the better option will always be baking over frying. Baking removes the concern of adding extra fats since it doesn’t require oil or grease to cook the fish. There is another unique benefit to baking over frying. Since frying, both deep-frying and pan-frying alike, use higher temperatures than baking, there is some loss of important nutrients. When fish is fried at higher temperatures, it loses some of the important omega-3 fats and vitamin D with some studies reporting fish such as salmon loses half of its vitamin D when fried. Baking fish is a great way to keep the important nutrients intact without upping the fat content to unhealthy levels. The key to baking fish in a healthy way is to use minimal oil and if you do add oil to the cooking process, make sure it is a heart-healthy one such as olive oil. It is also worth noting that while baking is the better option over deep-frying or pan-frying, steaming and poaching are even better than baking in terms of locking in nutrients. Since steaming and poaching happen at an even lower temperature than baking and require no oil at all, there is minimal loss in nutrients during the cooking process and the concern of added fats is eliminated as well.

Sources: