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Health Food of the month - Sea Bass

August 2016

Delicate goodness from Sea Bass

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Say you like Sea Bass and it doesn’t really mean a lot. This is because Sea Bass is a general name used to cover lots of different fish which can make it very confusing.

There is Black Sea Bass, found on the Atlantic coast of America; and Blue Spotted Sea Bass which is really a grouper. Then there is Japan Sea Bass which is actually sea perch and White Sea Bass which is actually a croaker fish and not a real bass at all.

Quite! But here in the UK when we buy or order Sea Bass generally it will be European Sea Bass, which is found around the Mediterranean and Black seas and also in European waters. They can be found as far north as the English Channel and the southern parts of the North Sea in summer.

Today Sea Bass is also increasingly farmed, especially in Mediterranean areas but also in Wales for some reason, and this helps to keep the prices down and also ensures a plentiful supply throughout the year.

Sea Bass can grow up to 7 kg, so can be a prize catch when caught naturally. Generally all Sea Bass provides a lean meat which is fairly firm with small to medium white flakes. It has a delicate flavour which is very popular on its own but can also adapt well to stronger flavours and even Thai recipes. There is another type of European Sea Bass called Striped American Bass which is farmed in freshwater and has a slightly different flavour.

The only difference is that farmed Bass have a slightly higher fat content.

Sea Bass today is jumping in popularity. The marine fishing authority Seafish say that sales of bass have more than trebled in the last 10 years and is now around our 14th most popular fish, just behind sole and plaice (tuna, salmon, cod and haddock still remain top of the list).

Sea Bass is like so many fish a really good nutritional food.  For around a 6 oz serving (171 grams), it provides 164 calories with a high level of protein (32 grams) and only 4 grams of fat, with no saturated fat at all.

Despite its low fat content, sea bass is an excellent source of two key omega-3 fatty acids and also provides god levels of magnesium and potassium – both good sources of selenium which we need to produce antioxidants. Sea Bass also is a rich source of vitamin B-6 but note the word Sea Bass here…bass raised in fresh water contains a lot less.  However, freshwater bass provides far higher levels of vitamin B-12 than sea bass, so there is no straight winner here!

Today most people are aware that some fish can contain unhealthy levels of mercury. In Sea Bass, the one to look out for is Chilean Sea Bass, not usually sold here in the UK, but this fish can contain much higher levels of mercury and needs to be treated with more care. The other concern today is overfishing and this applies to so many types of fish. At the moment Sea Bass is not endangered, and with increasing farming, the rise in popularity should be well catered for.


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