How Compatible is Barramundi with Your Diet?
One of the primary rules of fashion states that black goes with everything.
Little did we know, a similar rule applies to barramundi: It fits in perfectly with most popular diets.
Packed with lean protein and those give-me-please Omega-3s, the versatile barramundi is compatible with Whole30, Paleo, the Mediterranean diet, and more. Read on to find out how you can easily incorporate barramundi into your daily meal plan.
The Mediterranean diet—ranked the number one overall best diet by the 2017 U.S. News and World Reports—has been linked to several health benefits over the past decade including prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease, and cancers. This diet reflects typical foods of the region and is abundant in:
- Whole grains
- Lean proteins
- Olive oil
Fish and seafood are the go-to proteins for those eating a Mediterranean diet, with an emphasis on eating oily fishes twice a week. The high omega-3 fatty acids of such fish (like barramundi), specifically DHA and EPA, are often attributed to many of the heart healthy benefits of this diet such as decreased risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats), decreased triglyceride levels, a slowed growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lowered blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
Recap: Barramundi is perfect for a Mediterranean diet, characteristic of the foods eaten in the region with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. This diet recommends eating three to four ounces, about the size of a deck of cards, of fish per week.
We Recommend: Mediterranean Barramundi Bowls
The paleo and primal diets are based on the foods of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The characteristics of this diet—high protein, low carbohydrate, high fiber, and moderate to high fat intake—are said to help minimize the risk of chronic diseases and optimize health. For our Stone Age ancestors, protein consisted of 19 to 35 percent of their diets, so meat and seafood are staples of these diets. Both emphasize non-starchy fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats including olive oil, coconut oil, and avocado. While there are some key differences, both diets focus on eliminating grains, sugars, and trans and hydrogenated fats.
Paleo and Primal diets promote eating wild and grass-fed animals, and getting high-quality fish is an important component for a balanced diet. Although sustainably-caught wild fish are a great source of protein and other nutrients, overfishing and poor fishing practices has led to depleted wild fish stocks. While there is a debate within this community on farmed versus wild fish, when done sustainably and with an eye toward quality, farmed fish offers a nutritious seafood source that alleviates the pressure on wild fish populations. Barramundi is an excellent source of lean protein, with a five-ounce serving containing about 140 calories (half the calories of salmon), two grams of total fat, and 600 to 800 milligrams of omega-3s.
Recap: Barramundi can be a staple in the Paleo and Primal diets, which emphasize lots of protein, in addition to non-starchy fruits and vegetables and healthy fats. These diets recommend two servings (about three to four ounces for women and five to six ounces for men) of seafood a week.
We Recommend: Barramundi Fish Taco Bowls
Thought of as a short-term nutrition reset, the Whole30 diet cuts out food groups that may cause inflammation. This plan focuses on eating whole and unprocessed foods, consisting of vegetables, unprocessed meats, seafood, eggs, some fruits, and natural fats, while eliminating added sugar, grains, alcohol, legumes, dairy, and additives. According to its creators, following the Whole30 program can lead to a healthy metabolism, healed digestive tract, and balanced immune system.
Similar to the Mediterranean diet, this plan recognizes the health benefits of eating fatty fishes like barramundi. Getting enough omega-3s in our diets is important, as our modern diet has an imbalance of omega-6 to omega-3, often in excess of a 10:1 ratio. Too much omega-6 (found in vegetable oils) can cause inflammation in the body. Also, some farmed fish have higher omega-6 to 3 ratio than others due to the feed in their diet. Eating high-quality fish can help balance this ratio to the optimal 1:1, such as Australis Barramundi, which maintains this 1:1 ratio.
Recap: Whole30 recognizes the health benefits of eating fish like barramundi, and recommends four to six ounce serving of meat, eggs or seafood per meal. How much fish you eat per week is up to you! This diet suggests planning meals around your protein source, and recommends filling the rest of your plate with veggies and a small amount of healthy fats.
FODMAPs stands for Fermentable-Oligosaccharide-Disaccharide-Monosaccharide-And-Polyols, which are a group of small carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the digestive system. They are in a range of foods including:
- Fruits (apples, avocados, mangoes)
- Vegetables (asparagus, onions, beets)
- Grains (wheat, barley, rye)
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, unripened cheese)
A low FODMAP diet is often recommended to patients with irritable bowel syndrome, yet it’s gained popularity due to its ability to control gastrointestinal symptoms including gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. It is typically recommended for only two to six weeks. (Learn how seafood writer and historian, Justin Demetri, prepares seafood for his FODMAPs diet.)
Recap: Animal protein, including fish, is generally low in FODMAPs, and therefore ideal for this diet, as they contain very little or no carbohydrates. You can eat as much barramundi as you’d like without adding to your FODMAP load.
We Recommend: Roasted Barramundi with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
The Ketogenic diet (Keto) was also developed for a specific patient population, in this case, for children with difficult-to-treat epilepsy. Those on this diet eat high-fat, low-carbohydrate foods to force the body to burn fats instead of sugar for energy. The low amount of carbohydrates in the body also forces the liver to turn fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies, and this elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, known as ketosis, has been shown to reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures.
In the 1990s, media attention renewed scientific interest in this diet for other disorders, and its recent mainstream following stems from the popularity of a similar diet, the Atkins diet.
People on a ketogenic diet eat meats, leafy greens, high fat dairy, nuts and seeds, avocados and berries, while avoiding starchy vegetables, grains, all other fruit and sugar. Keto supports consumption of omega-3s, therefore barramundi and other fatty fishes fit right in. Many people have adopted this diet for sustained energy levels and weight-loss.
Recap: Fatty fishes including barramundi fits are perfect for the high-fat, moderate protein, and low carb requirements of a Keto diet. How much fish you incorporate into a keto diet is dependent on your current weight and activity level. Too much protein can cause your ketone levels to lower, and too little can cause you to lose muscle. Using this calculator can help you learn how much protein to add into your meal plan.
There are many plant-based diets from raw vegan to vegetarian. Whether motivated by anti-violence, sustainability, or health reasons, one thing they have in common is avoiding meat, including fish. However, without careful planning, vegans and vegetarians can have a deficiency in two important omega-3s, DHA and EPA. Even when eating a diet rich in the third omega-3, ALA (found in chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds and walnuts), it can be challenging to get enough due to the inefficiency in converting ALA to the essential DHA and EPA. So, some people eating plant-based diets are choosing to supplement their diets with seafood to get high-quality omega-3s.
Recap: Due to omega-3 deficiencies in a plant-based diets, barramundi and other fish can fit into this lifestyle. Start with a diet primarily eating veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts, and grains, and occasionally add fish and seafood to the menu.
As a healthy protein source, incorporating fish into your diet helps promote better health and can reduce the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. With its high protein, low calorie and optimal 1:1 omega-6 to 3 fatty acid ratio, barramundi, delicious, and affordable. In short, it’s a no-brainer
Healthy Lifestyle: Nutrition and healthy eating, Mayo Clinic. 4 November 2016.
Personal view: food for thought – western lifestyle and susceptibility to Crohn’s disease. The FODMAP hypothesis. Gibson, P. R. and Shepherd, S. J. (2005). Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 21: 1399–1409. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2036.2005.02506.x
Information about a Low FODMAP Diet. Digestive Health Foundation. 2013. https://cart.gesa.org.au/membes/files/Consumer%20Information/Low%20FODMAP%20Diet.pdf
The ketogenic diet: metabolic influences on brain excitability and epilepsy. Trends Neurosci. 2013 Jan;36(1):32-40. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2012.11.005. Epub 2012 Dec 8.
The Paleo Diet – https://thepaleodiet.com/
Primal Blueprint – https://www.primalblueprint.com/what-is-the-primal-blueprint/
Mediterranean Diet. Oldways. https://oldwayspt.org/traditional-diets/mediterranean-diet
Whole30 – https://whole30.com/new/
The Vegan Society – https://www.vegansociety.com/