Beloved kids’ classics: How healthy are (not) fish fingers?

Updated on 04/29/2022 10:42 AM

  • The basic rule is that children should eat fish once a week.
  • Fish fingers are a popular choice among parents.
  • It shows what’s inside and how well the cheap variants perform Investigation by “Öko-Test”.

You can find more nutrition topics here

Thin, golden-crunchy fish filling: what tastes delicious and feels good in the mouth is popular with children. You don’t have to worry about fish waste in it: traditional fish fingers consist of 65% pure pollock or Alaskan pollock, according to a study by “Öko-Test” at the end of 2020.

Fish fingers: the problem with baking

The answer to the question whether fish fingers are healthy is: “Yes.” Because the disadvantage lies mainly in the bread, which absorbs fat during frying in the pan. This turns chopsticks into a calorie bomb: according to “Öko-Test”, five pieces actually contain 17 grams of fat, which is a third of the recommended daily amount for children.

Read also: Healthy cooking – it’s especially easy with these tools

On the other hand, baking in the oven is less greasy because it provides the extra frying fat. Parents can also adjust the meal’s vitamin and calorie content with side dishes: potatoes and fresh vegetables or raw vegetables are a better choice than frozen french fries or mashed potatoes from the bag.

Fish should be on the table once a week

The fish in the sticks is generally healthy for kids. This should be on your list once a week. It is the main supplier of iodine, assures the Consumer Advice Center in its “Strong Baby Food” guide.

Fish also contains important proteins and omega-3 fatty acids. They protect the cardiovascular system. It also supports the growth and development of the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids also form proteins in the body that affect muscle function as well as inflammatory and immune reactions.

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are especially beneficial for the organism. However, they are found particularly in oily fish, which does not include the pollock used in fish sticks. Types of fatty fish are salmon, mackerel and herring. At this point, Captain Iglo salmon sticks may be a healthier option. They scored “very well” on the Öko test, but only contain 50 percent salmon.

Also the cheap fish sticks are “very good”

So what are the best fish sticks parents buy? In their study, Consumer Advocates of “Öko-Test” 2020 tested fish fingers from 19 manufacturers for harmful substances, taste and organoleptic properties, as well as sustainability, among others. Many products from discount companies like Lidl and Penny, including the inexpensive ones, scored “very good.” However, according to “Öko-Test”, others have observed an increased level of 3-MCPD lipid contaminant, including fish fingers of Captain Igloo and Eiseman.

The problem: In animal experiments, 3-MCPD and its esters (an acid and alcohol product, editor’s note) caused kidney damage in particular. Therefore, the European Food Safety Authority has set the maximum daily intake. Accordingly, children weighing 30 kilograms would eat more if they ate five fish sticks from Igloo or Eiseman, according to experts at “Öko-Test”.

Make fresh fish delicious for kids

However, a healthier option is to serve fish offspring without a crunchy coating. It is important to present the food in a way that is attractive to the little ones, for example by putting a face made of peppers or berries on the fish. A delicious dip can add to the enjoyment. In addition, the Consumer Advice Center emphasizes in its guide that an attractive table atmosphere and beautiful decor can influence the eating habits of children. In this way, arguments and unpleasant topics during the meal should be avoided.

The role of role models is also important. They should show that they take the time to eat dinner and stay seated at the table. Looking at a mobile phone or newspaper while eating is taboo. If you clearly and in peace enjoy your healthy food, the little ones might do the same.

It can also have a positive effect if children are involved in preparing the meal and thus can develop a relationship with food. It can be helpful to discuss the meal plan with the boys and girls to accept desires and develop healthy options together.

Sources used:

  • “Environmental testing”: fish stick test: many of them are contaminated with fatty contaminants
  • Consumer Advice Center: Strong Baby Food
  • German Dietetic Association: fish on the table regularly!

In the restaurant, guests will often find the addition of “Müllerin Art” or “blue” in the menu of fish dishes. This refers to the different methods of preparation. In the video, we explain what fish lovers can expect from these two dishes.

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