Fish are important and commonly eaten traditional food sources in the north. Many kinds of fish are available in our waters. Fish parts are used for decorative craft designs and medicinal purposes.
Northern fish include Walleye, Pickerel, Cisco, Tullibee, Loche, Burbot, Pike, Jackfish, Whitefish, Lake Trout, Inconnu, Grayling, Suckers, Coni, Cod, Herring, Sculpin, and Arctic Char.
Although there are slight differences in the nutrients found in fish, they all add important nutrients to our diet. They are excellent sources of protein, calcium and B Vitamins. Fish such as Trout and Arctic Char provide omega-3 fats.
What do we know about fish?
Northerners eat most parts of fish, including the flesh, heads, eggs, liver, stomach and bones. Fish eggs are enjoyed fresh and many say “they are eating a million fish”.
Fish eggs can be added to bannock. The flesh can be eaten raw, frozen, boiled, roasted and dried. Smoking or drying helps preserve fish and increases the amount of nutrients due to moisture loss during the drying process. It’s great to take for a snack.
Nutrients found in fish
|Nutrients Contents per Serving||
|An excellent food source means it supplies 25% or more of a nutrient per day||
|A good source supplies 15 - 24% of a nutrient per day||Iron||Vitamin D|
|A fair source supplies 5 - 14% of a nutrient per day||
- The table shows the nutrients found in most northern fish. Nutrients found in most northern fish are quite similar.
- The nutrient values for trout have been used as the reference fish.
- Reference Serving Sizes are from Canada’s Food Guide (dried = 35g, cooked = 75g, raw = 90g).
- The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) amounts are based on the needs of a 14 – 18 year old girl.
- Excellent, good and fair sources of nutrients have been standardized for any type of food source.
Did you know?
- Fish meat, heads, eggs, and liver are excellent sources of protein. Protein builds and repairs muscles, skin and blood, helping to keep us healthy.
- Fish oils are excellent sources of healthy fats called omega-3 Fats which can help prevent heart disease and cancer. Arctic Char and Trout are excellent sources of omega-3 Fats.
- Fish heads and bones are excellent sources of calcium. We need calcium for strong bones and teeth.
- Fish liver is an excellent source of vitamin A. Vitamin A is needed for healthy skin, bones and eyes, keeping our bodies healthy.
- Fish eggs are fair sources of iron. Iron helps make healthy blood that flows through our bodies, giving us energy to be active and to grow strong. Healthy blood keeps us from getting tired.
- Arctic Char is a good source of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps us have healthy bones and teeth, keeping us strong and healthy and to help prevent diseases such as rickets and diabetes.
Prepare Foods Safely
- Use safe food handling practices – wash your hands and equipment.
- Eat fish only when properly handled, cooked, dried, or aged.
- To store meat, use only clean containers or bags made for FOOD storage.
|Meat||How to Store||Refrigerator||Freezer|
|Raw||Store Separately||1 – 2 days||4 – 12 months|
|Cooked||Store separately from raw||Reheat cooked meat only once/ keep for 3 days||1 - 3 months|
Prepare foods in traditional ways to avoid too much added sugar, fat and salt. Boil fish heads in broth and add rice, onions, carrots, and peas for a tasty chowder. For a healthy meal, serve with bannock and fruit (frozen or canned when fresh is not in season). Have water with your meal.
Hunting and fishing for a healthy lifestyle
Getting out on the land is part of our northern way of life. It is great to be active. Hunting, fishing, gathering, and eating traditional foods helps keep us healthy.
Mercury and other contaminants may be a concern when consuming certain traditional foods such as fish in specified regions.
For more information contact:
- Community Health Representatives
- Registered Dietitians
- Band Office and Local Elders
- Territorial Nutritionist, Department of Health and Social Services
- Environmental Health Officers