The health benefits of silver fish

Silver fish, locally known as ‘Indagara’, are available locally in most markets in the country. With only Rwf1,500, one can get a kilogramme of silver fish to supplement a family’s meals for a couple of weeks.
Silver fish promotes brain development in children. / Lydia Atieno.
Silver fish promotes brain development in children. / Lydia Atieno.

Silver fish, locally known as ‘Indagara’, are available locally in most markets in the country. With only Rwf1,500, one can get a kilogramme of silver fish to supplement a family’s meals for a couple of weeks.

Nutritionists say silver fish is nutritious and contain a lot of vitamins that are essential for the development of our bodies.

Abundant in proteins and vitamin D

For those who can’t afford other protein-rich foods or supplements, Isaac Bikorimana, a Kigali-based nutritionist, says turning to silver fish will still provide them with the amounts of protein they could have otherwise obtained from other sources such as beans, eggs and milk, among others.

Depending on someone’s preference, he says dried or fresh, both types of silver fish have abundant nutritional value.

Bikorimana notes that it also contains calcium, which is essential for strengthening of bones. The presence of calcium also aids in muscle contraction, transmitting messages through the nerve as well as release of hormones, he adds.

Bikorimana further says this type of fish is also rich in omega 3, which is essential in the development of the brain, especially for children.

Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Complimentary Therapy in Remera, Kigali, notes that silver fish should be consumed daily because of its amazing nutrional value.

He says it contains folic acid that is capable of preventing neural tube defect in children. Kamanzi explains that this is a birth defect of the brain, spine or spinal cord, which normally happens during the first month of pregnancy, and that it always happens even before a woman knows she is pregnant.

To avoid this, Kamanzi says including silver fish in one’s diet even before pregnancy is key.

“Silver fish is also crucial during the development of the child. It contains amino acids that help boost immunity of the body, thus preventing malnutrition and helps to fight many diseases, including flu and cough,” he says.

Anti-disease properties

Dieudonne’ Bukaba, a nutritiont expert in Kigali, says silver fish aids in fighting against heart attacks and strokes, which are among the most common causes of premature death all over the world.

“Silver fish just like any other type of fish can protect one from a condition known as macular degeneration, which is capable of causing vision impairment and blindness,” he says.

Because it is rich in proteins, Bukaba says this fish can help in building and repairing of tissues, as well as in making enzymes. Silver fish is also a major source of energy.

Kamanzi points out that silver fish is rich in Omega 6, which nourishes the brain, and is said to prevent rheumatoid arthritis.

He explains that this kind of arthritis is the inflammation of the lining of the joints, especially in the hand and fingers. If left untreated, Kamanzi says it can cause severe damage to the joints and serious complications of major organs.

“Because silver fish has got oil, combined with omega 3 and 6, it is capable of fighting against this kind condition,” he notes.

How to prepare it

Kamanzi says silver fish can be eaten raw, especially the dried type, and will still provide its nutritional value.

Regarding preparing it, he says it doesn’t require complicated methods of cooking. For instance, Kamanzi says it will still be tasty when added to boiling water mixed with salt.

Bikorimana, on the other hand, says depending on one’s preference, they can add onions, tomatoes as well as other spices to boiled silver fish.

Besides, experts say preparing silver fish along with other types of foods such as vegetables and groundnuts, among others, is as well healthy.

For pregnant women, however, Bikorimana warns that they should limit the intake of silver fish, because of the risks it carries to the unborn child.

“It contains mercury just like any other seafood which when overconsumed can lead to the risk of one developing high blood pressure, which is not good for pregnant women,” he says.

Bikorimana says silver fish can as well lead to deformation of the foetus in the womb due to the presence of mercury, but advises that consuming it once in a while is essential.

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