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Know your food: When to eat your favourite fish – a seasonal guide

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Over the years, a lot has been said about the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids, an essential component in fish. Studies claim that children who eat fish at least once a week sleep better and have IQ scores that are four points higher, on average, than those who consume fish less frequently or not at all. It also improves insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes and increases serotonin levels, a powerful brain chemical which brings down your food cravings and makes you feel full without eating too much. Now, fish lovers might not exactly be thinking about the health benefits while consuming it, but it’s important to be responsible eaters.

Some of the more relished varieties are caught frequently, even before they can breed, leading to a concerning dip in their numbers. To prevent species of fish from being wiped out, campaigners are working towards educating consumers on what to eat in which season.

KnowYourFish is one such calendar that provides a very user-friendly platform to learn more about the fish you are eating. With a chart form, marked in green and red, the calendar precisely describes the breeding cycles of fish species, so the consumer can make an informed choice. It encourages “sparing the fish during their breeding season and early stages of life.”

So, what are the varieties that should be scraped off this season?

If you’re living on the west coast of India, Mackerel needs to be left alone from the months of June to September, while Squid, Tiger Prawns, Silver Pomfret, Kingfish and Barramundi are good to go.

However, for those living on the East coast of the country, InseasonFish has a completely different calendar that puts Silver Pomfret, Whiting, Indian Halibut in the ‘avoid’ zone, and gives a go-ahead to eating Mackerel, Barracuda and Indian White Prawn.

Surprisingly, from among the large variety of edible fish present, most countries only consume a small percentage of those varieties, preferring to keep a limited palette, instead of an elaborate one. Seasonal choices aside, one can also take measures so as to have a sustainable fish diet. Here are some options:

Swap Bluefin Tuna for the Omega-3 rich Mackerel

While Bluefin Tuna is a delicious fish, its numbers have decreased heavily in the Pacific with many environmental groups pushing for it to be declared an endangered species. Though the flavours and fatty texture of this fish may be hard to substitute, its Omega-3 rich cousin, Mackerel can make for a responsible choice.

Give the shrimp a break, try mussels

An awful lot of shrimp fishing is done by trawling, which is a destructive method and even the farming is carried out under horrendous conditions. Mussels are comparatively more sustainable, and healthy.

Catfish may look ugly, but it tastes like a dream

Though they can look quite repellant, the flaky and tender meat of catfish is delectable, and eating this fish is quite sustainable as well.

It’s almost a mercy to eat the sturdy Lionfish

There are some fish species like the Lionfish that are highly invasive and harm a lot of favoured varieties such as the grouper. Lionfish have a sturdy texture and its meat can be blackened and can be very filling.

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