Everyone needs a healthy diet, but those with diabetes need it more than anyone else. Diabetes is a complex condition. As it develops, a person must monitor several factors, including food. Dietary negligence might increase blood sugar levels and worsen the condition. Additionally, it could affect other organs like the eyes, kidneys, or heart.
As far back as recorded human history goes, fish has been a crucial component of the human food chain. Fish were and continue to be the most abundant resource for humans and other animals. Fish are popular worldwide for their enormous variety, ease of availability, and nutrient vitality.
Eating a lot of fish would not help patients reverse diabetes. However, fish contains vitamins D and E, omega-3 fatty acids and protein. These nutrients regulate insulin and blood sugar levels. For instance, a study shows that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish deliver anti-inflammatory benefits. Therefore, it is beneficial for diabetic patients since diabetes often triggers unnecessary inflammation.
People can prevent secondary complications from diabetes by eating a diet rich in fatty fish. However, do remember that some fish kinds are far more effective for controlling or preventing diabetes than others.
Is Fish Good for Diabetes Patients?
People with diabetes can eat fish in moderation. Protein and omega-3 fatty acids in fish complete some of your energy demands. Moreover, research says that consuming fish high in vitamin D could reduce or prevent the incidence of vitamin D deficiency. Since vitamin D deficiency contributes to insulin resistance, eating fish will help alleviate this for diabetic patients.
Since fish is high in proteins and lipids, it has a lower Glycemic Index (GI) reducing the likelihood of increasing blood sugar levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil derivatives. Research says that omega-3 fatty acids given in conjunction with metformin help reduce triglyceride levels in diabetic dyslipidemia. In addition, it does not cause adverse drug reactions or any drug interaction.
Another study suggests that fish oil substantially reduces triglyceride levels by about 30% in diabetic people. It has no adverse effects on HbA1c, which refers to the amount of blood sugar attached to your haemoglobin. But this may accompany a minor rise in LDL cholesterol levels.
Fish does have a preventive impact. However you cannot reverse diabetes. Instead, higher fish intake or eating more than the recommended amount could have the opposite effect. Therefore, eat fish in moderation, whether you have diabetes or not.
The HealthifyMe Note
Fish does not have a high GI value and is an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, and healthy fats. Oily fish contains omega-3 fats, which are essential for preventing diabetes-related inflammation. The vitamin D in fish can also tackle vitamin D deficiency, which is common in type 2 diabetes.
Which Indian Fish is Best for Diabetes?
The following Indian fish species are beneficial for diabetes patients:
Indian Salmon (Rawas)
Indian and other salmon varieties contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. These “good” fats can lower your chance of developing diabetes-related issues like heart disease, heart failure, and stroke. Eating at least 2-3 servings of fish per week provides enough fatty acids to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Since salmon is a rich source of minerals, particularly magnesium, it significantly boosts immunity. It is highly beneficial because diabetes often causes compromised immunity.
“Tilapia” refers to a group of closely related fish species. They are common in the Middle East and Africa, but you can find them worldwide. It is a quality source of protein, essential for developing muscle. In addition, Tilapia contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy for the heart and the brain.
Tilapia has a lot of potassium. Steamed or poached small fillets have 137 calories and 28.5 grams (g) of protein per serving. In addition, tilapia is simple to prepare.
The fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 are abundant in cod. In addition, it is plentiful in niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Phosphorus, potassium and selenium. They also contain some trace minerals.
Cod is a low-calorie, high-protein white fish, similar to tilapia. However, contrary to tilapia, cod produces a little harder fillet that can handle more severe grilling and seasoning and more aggressive cooking techniques.
Salmon, char, and trout are all members of the family Salmonidae. Niacin, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein are all abundant in them.
Shrimp has an impressive nutrient profile, with high doses of selenium, iron, niacin, zinc, iodine, phosphorus, and magnesium. Furthermore, most of the calories in shrimp come from its muscle-building protein content. However, those with a shellfish allergy should avoid shrimp. Tuna and salmon are both higher sources of omega-3s. So, they can be a great alternative to shrimp.
People with diabetes attempting to avoid excessive cholesterol may have to avoid shrimp as shrimp contains comparatively high amounts of cholesterol compared to other types of seafood.
Health Benefits of Fish for Diabetes Patients
Diabetes is a result of hormonal and metabolic alterations. A study shows that fish consumption provides several nutrients of central importance to hormonal and metabolic function. Therefore, it can minimise the risk of metabolic disorders, like diabetes, to some extent.
Most dietary guidelines recommend fish as a part of a balanced diet plan. Here are some reasons why adding fish is good for your health:
Low Glycemic Index
Fish does not have a GI rating because it has a low carbohydrate content. Instead, it is mostly protein and fats, essential in a diabetes diet. A low-GI food with high protein contributes to stable glucose levels.
Fish is fatty in nature but contains fewer calories than red meat. However, some versions, such as baked, broiled, or steamed, are perfect low-calorie food for lunch and dinner. However, frying fish adds extra calories, unhealthy fats, and carbohydrates.
Rich in High-Quality Protein
Fish is an excellent dietary protein source with high biological value. The biological value of fish protein is higher than that of plant protein or even beef. The protein content of fish ranges between 16 and 28 g per 100 g. In addition, fish is rich in an amino acid derivative called carnitine.
Contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The primary omega-3 fatty acids in fish are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA and EPA in fish decrease cardiovascular risks. In addition, it reduces inflammation and manages triglyceride levels. Omega-3s also help reduce fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
Valuable Calcium, Calcium Phosphate & Vitamin D3
Calcium and phosphorus prevent osteoporosis, which is common in diabetes. In addition, the vitamin D3 in fish works with calcium and phosphorus to promote insulin sensitivity and enhance glycemic control.
For most fish species, vitamin D level fluctuates between 400 and 800 IU/100 g. However, the vitamin D in trout and tilapia may reach up to 1200 IU/100 g. Therefore, they are better options if you have vitamin D deficiency.
Fish Recipes for Diabetic Patients
For including fish in a diabetes diet, start by selecting the healthiest fish preparation method. Baking, poaching, broiling, steaming, and grilling are healthier cooking methods. You could even incorporate fish into stews and soups.
- Steaming a fish does not require any added fat. As a result, it also retains most of its nutrients.
- Poaching is most effective for firm fish fillets. The healthier the liquid you choose for poaching, the healthier the fish will be.
- Grilling only requires a light brush of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Baking is the simplest method for cooking fish, where there is no fear of added fat.
Here are some recipes for you to try:
Red Pepper and Tilapia
Total time: 20 minutes
- One large egg, lightly beaten
- Seasoning of choice: 1 tsp
- Crushed red pepper flakes: 1 tsp
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Tilapia fillets: 4
Method of Preparation
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Combine the egg, seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Dip fillets in a bowl containing the mixture
- Place fillets in a baking pan.
- Bake until the fish flakes easily with a fork or for about 10-15 minutes.
Simple Fish Curry
Total Time: 15 minutes
- Fish fillet of choice: 2
- Olive oil: 1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
- One onion, thinly sliced
- Six curry leaves, fresh
- Turmeric: 1 tsp
- Ground coriander: 1 tsp
- Chilli powder: 1 tsp
- Two tomatoes, finely chopped
Method of Preparation
- Heat olive oil, add cumin seeds and cook until they pop.
- Reduce heat to medium, add onion and cook until onions are softened and slightly caramelised.
- Add the rest of the spices and cook for 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until they soften.
- Add water. Continue cooking till the sauce thickens.
- Heat the remaining oil in a separate pan and pan-grill the fish for 2 minutes.
- Add the fish to the curry sauce.
- Cook on low heat until the fish is cooked.
Potential Risks of Consuming Fish
Certain species, such as sharks, swordfish, marlin, and tuna, contain higher levels of mercury. Although most fish do not contain harmful amounts of mercury, research says pregnant women must avoid eating them. Instead, they should consume other types of fish in moderation after contacting a doctor. To know more about which fish and how much of them is best for you, connect with the health coaches at HealthifyMe.
Some other risk factors related to fish overconsumption are:
- Consuming raw or undercooked seafood causes food poisoning. Hence, you should avoid the direct interaction of raw fish with other foods to prevent cross-contamination.
- Allergies to fish and seafood are also common. A fish allergy can cause diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.
- Contaminants like mercury and pesticides in fish remain in the body for a long time. As a result, it can lead to multiple health issues.
Fish is an excellent option for people who have diabetes. It is one of those few foods that provide ample nutrition without causing any adverse effects on blood sugar. The minimal carbohydrate and high protein content keep the blood sugar levels stable. In addition, the omega fats found in fish are essential for raising a healthy cholesterol profile. They also assist in reducing inflammation.
High-quality protein is abundant in fish with omega-3 fats, which are suitable for the heart. In addition, fish is simple to prepare. However, excess of anything is not beneficial. Therefore, eat fish in moderate amounts for stabilising glucose levels and enhancing health.
The Supporting Sources
1. Giacobbe Juliette, Benoiton Bonnie, Zunszain Patricia, Pariante Carmine M., Borsini Alessandra: The Anti-Inflammatory Role of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Metabolites in Pre-Clinical Models of Psychiatric. Front. Psychiatry, 28 February 2020. Sec. Molecular Psychiatry. Volume 11
2. Tirakomonpong, Nichaphan & Judprasong, Kunchit & Sridonpai, Piyanut & Saetang, Preecha & Puwastien, Prapasri & Rojroongwasinkul, Nipa & Ongphiphadhanakul, Boonsong. (2019). Vitamin D in commonly consumed freshwater and marine fish. 54. 55-67.
3. Chauhan, S., Kodali, H., Noor, J., Ramteke, K., & Gawai, V. (2017). Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Lipid Profile in Diabetic Dyslipidaemia: Single Blind, Randomised Clinical Trial. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR, 11(3), OC13–OC16.
4. Friedberg, C. E., Janssen, M. J., Heine, R. J., & Grobbee, D. E. (1998). Fish oil and glycemic control in diabetes. A meta-analysis. Diabetes care, 21(4), 494–500.
5. Mendivil C. O. (2021). Fish Consumption: A Review of Its Effects on Metabolic and Hormonal Health. Nutrition and metabolic insights, 14, 11786388211022378.
6. Bramante, C. T., Spiller, P., & Landa, M. (2018). Fish Consumption During Pregnancy: An Opportunity, Not a Risk. JAMA paediatrics, 172(9), 801–802.