Fish Derivatives - Are they Healthy?

Food products made from fish are very popular in our country, especially among children. These are one of the few ways you can actually get children to eat fish, but just how healthy are fish derivatives?
Fish Derivatives - Are they Healthy?

Last update: 14 September, 2018

Fish is a good source of proteins and healthy fats. These are essential for the correct functioning of your body. This is the reason why experts recommend that you eat them frequently. Fish is an important part of the Mediterranean diet. This is true, whether it’s fresh or frozen. Fish derivatives are becoming more popular lately. But are they healthy?

What is the actual percentage of fish in these products?

If you’re a parent, you have to realize that a serving of crab sticks (or a similar product) is not the same as a serving of fish. This is because fish derivative products only contain a percentage of actual fish.

Fish sticks are a good example of this. Hake comprises only 35 percent of these. For the most part, the remainder is made up of fats, starches, and salts. The same applies with other foods that are derived from fish, such as imitation crab or imitation eel. Let’s see if it’s healthy to eat fish substitutes.

imitation eel fish derivatives
Both imitation eel and crab sticks are made of surimi.

Fish comprises less than 50 percent of practically all fish substitutes. Because of this, you should understand that eating a serving of fish derivatives, is not equivalent to eating a serving of fish. Also, you are putting other things into your body that are not very healthy.

Should I stop eating them?

When you eat fish derivatives, you should be aware that you’re not just consuming fish. In fact, actual fish tends to make up just a small percentage of the ingredients. Considerable amounts of salt, sugar, oils, and starch are added to these products. Because of this, most of them are not very healthy foods.

It won’t affect your body if you consume these foods occasionally. On the other hand, if you’re eating them frequently, it’s best to exchange them for fresh or frozen fish. It should of course, always be unprocessed.

This is because, as we have stated before, when you eat processed fish, you’re only taking in a very small quantity of actual fish. The remainder of the ingredients are not very healthy and, for the most part, can contribute to the accumulation of fat in your body. This leads to weight gain.

If you take a look at your own dietary habits, you’ll surely find that you’ve eaten fish derivatives in the last month. This is because they are very popular foods. In addition, these products are pre-cooked or require very little effort to make them suitable for eating. This is why they can be prepared quickly.

The most common fish derivatives are listed below. As we’ve stated before, you shouldn’t be too worried if you eat them once in a while. On the other hand, if you consume them frequently, we encourage you to check the ingredients that they contain.

crab sticks fish derivative

Below, we list the most popular fish derivatives found in our country:

  • Imitation eel. As opposed to what many may think, imitation eel is not made from natural fish. This is one of the primary fish derivatives. It’s made of surimi, water, flour, breadcrumbs, oil, and salt.
  • Imitation crab. Despite what many people think, imitation crab is not related to crab at all. It’s made using the meat from different fish, that wouldn’t be sold if they were fresh. There is simply no demand for these species. The fish meat is dried and then mixed with other ingredients. Some of these are salts, soy protein, and starches. This gives the product a more pleasant texture.
  • Fish soup blocks. These have very low amounts of actual fish. That’s why it’s always better to just make homemade fish soup from scratch. Fish soup blocks have high quantities of salt and fats.
  • Microwaveable fish drumsticks. These are made using surimi, which is mixed with other ingredients to give them a more appetizing texture, as we have already stated. Aside from this, the sticks are also covered in batter, which makes them fairly unhealthy to eat.
  • Fish sticks. Manufacturers indicate on all fish stick packaging that they use hake to make them. This is only partially true. Hake actually comprises only a small percentage of the ingredients found in these. The rest is mainly flour, oil, and fats.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.