How to Know Which Fish is Essential and Authentic for the Mediterranean Diet

Called The Mediterranean Diet, or even the fish diet—whichever name you prefer, it has been characterized as one of the gold standards for diets to this day. Often voted one of the best, most healthful diets, it isn’t an exaggeration. In areas of the Mediterranean, it is supported by hundreds of studies and has existed far longer than the decades it has become more widely known and famous.

The diet is filled with foods traditionally found in southern France, most of Italy, Greece, and Crete and influences the southern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Cuisine. However, the true history of the Mediterranean diet is based on the diets of many ancient peoples, with the singular source being lost in time as they sink into the eating habits of the Middle Ages. Some theorize that the diet may have descended from ancient and advanced civilizations in the Middle East around 9000 BC.

Regardless, it is one of the most healthy diets to follow with continuous new research that shows many health benefits.

So how does fish fit into this fish diet? What exactly does eating fish do for you? And which fish is the most authentic to the diet? Let’s find out!

Why Fish Is Important in this Diet and What Fish Can Do for your Health

Fish is a low-fat, high-quality protein filled with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B2 (riboflavin.) Fish is also rich in calcium, phosphorous, is an excellent source of minerals like iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.

The American Heart Association recommends that we eat fish two times per week. The Mediterranean diet encourages at least three times per week. But what is it about omega-3 fatty acids in fish that make them so crucial to this diet or any diet for that matter?

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Our bodies can make most of the types of fats it needs to function correctly from other fats or raw materials. However, when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat that we need for many functions, our body cannot make them from scratch. Omega-3s must be gained from eating foods that are high in omega-3s.

What makes this particular fat so unique? Omega-3 is an integral part of our cell membranes found throughout our body, and it affects the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. Omega-3s provide the building blocks for creating hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. They also bind to receptors in our cells that regulate genetic function. It is likely due to these effects that omega-3 fats have been shown to improve heart disease, reduce the risk of strokes, and help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis, and many other benefits.

What are just a few of the potential benefits of eating fish rich in omega-3s?

  • Studies indicate that people who consume omega-3s more regularly are less likely to be depressed. (1)
  • Omega-3s may improve eye health and reduce vision problems. (2)
  • During pregnancy and early life, omega-3s can promote better brain health, as they are crucial for brain growth and early development in infants. (3)
  • Omega-3s can lower the risk factors for heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes, one of the world’s leading causes of death, as omega 3s can cause a significant reduction in triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels, and can keep blood platelets from clumping together, forming dangerous clots. (4)
  • Inflammation is a natural response to infections and damage to your body. However, inflammation occasionally persists for a long time, even without illness or injury. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the production of the molecules and substances known to cause chronic inflammation. (5)
  • Necessary in infant and brain growth, omega-3s may also play a part in fighting age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Several studies have linked higher omega-3 intakes to decreased age-related cognitive degeneration and a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease. (6)

Other potential benefits may be improving bone and joint health, sleep improvements, and healthier skin.

Most Authentic Fish for this Diet

If you would like to eat nearly the same fish the ancient Greeks may have consumed, here are the fish and seafood most likely common in their diets.

  • Squid
  • Octopus
  • Cuttlefish
  • Prawns
  • Crayfish
  • Yellowfin tuna
  • Red mullet
  • Sea bass
  • Grouper
  • Wrasse
  • Swordfish
  • Sturgeon
  • Eels

In France during the medieval period, salt-water fish was much rarer and mostly reserved for the wealthy. But freshwater fish was available to people of all classes.

  • Trout
  • Whitefish
  • Pile
  • Eel
  • Lamprey
  • Shads

In Italy, a source called the Excerpta Vinidarii attributed to the Goth cook Vinidarious held several discussions on diet, food, and recipes. Several recipes featuring fish were preserved in manuscripts and showcases what many medieval Italians may have fished and eaten.

  • Soles
  • Red mullets
  • Gobies
  • Accluga/ European Anchovies
  • Eel
  • Dentex
  • Atlantic Cod
  • Gilt-head seabream
  • Swordfish
  • Sole
  • Bluefin tuna
  • Squid
  • Shrimp
  • Sea urchin
  • Scallops
  • Clams

Some Fish that were common in Middle Eastern dishes:

  • Grey Mullet
  • Carp
  • Trout
  • Tilapia
  • Cod
  • Branzino

Other fish important to a fish diet that you can incorporate into your meals:

  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Albacore tuna
  • Salmon

Are you ready to try a diet rich in fish, seafood, and history? If you’re eager to start your journey on the Mediterranean Diet armed with these authentic fish, it’s time to start with your number one source of the freshest, premium fish and seafood available online today. We commit to providing a more extensive selection of unique and rarer choices of fish, seafood, and meats to ensure our customers can enjoy a wider variety of options in their meals. Additionally, we offer the chance for you to choose your cuts for meats so you can always enjoy them just the way you love them.

Save time, effort, and the hassle of the grocery store by ordering today in bulk for the ultimate in savings for whatever your culinary needs may be.

Resources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976923/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2136947/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12509593/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18541598/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16841861/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25592004/