NUTRITION CORNER: The lowly dilis is much more nutritious than dairy products

Here in the Philippines, dilis is available locally throughout the whole year. While it is more nutritious than milk, unfortunately, it is often bought only as a last resort even by families who cannot afford to buy the more expensive dairy products, meat and classy fish varieties for their protein and calcium needs.

In other countries, however, fresh dilis or in its many forms as anchovy are highly prized and expensive and top restaurants serve them raw in vinegar and olive oil, or dusted with flour and deep fried, flavored only with a squeeze of lemon juice. These recipes are very much similar to the Filipino kilawen and rebosadong dilis.

It can not be denied though that dilis, though lowly in the eyes of many Filipinos, is much more nutritious than other food products such as dairy, meat and other varieties of fish.

A report by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) showed that 100 grams of the fresh dilis contains 752 mg of calcium, more than double the amount of 340.55 mg found in a cup of milk.

Calcium is a vital element in any healthy human diet. Calcium is an essential mineral for healthy bones, gums and teeth. It prevents obesity, protects the heart muscles, helps the nervous system to maintain the proper pressure in the arteries, prevents cancer in the colon. Adequate amounts of calcium lessens the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome such as dizziness, irritability, depression and hypertension. It also controls blood pressure.

The dilis contains high protein, and vitamins E and D,

Dilis is also a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids,  among the most most beneficial types of the polyunsaturated fats found in fish.

Several studies have shown that people who get high amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids from fish such as dilis tend to have increased HDL cholesterol and decreased triglycerides. HDL cholesterol as we all know is good cholesterol. Several clinical studies suggest that diets rich in Omega-3 fatty acids lower blood pressure in people with hypertension.

Clinical evidence suggests that EPA and DHA (Eicosapentaenoic acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid, the two Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, help reduce risk factors for heart disease, including high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Clinic studies showed that people with diabetes often have high triglyceride and low HDL levels. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can help lower triglycerides and apoproteins, markers of diabetes, and raise HDL, so eating foods or taking fish oil supplements may help people with diabetes.

The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings  (3.5 ounces) of fish weekly. And hopefully, the Filipino family would no longer look down at the dilis,  because this is one food that is full of nutrients, rich in protein and a good source of Vitamins E and D and minerals that are vital for a healthy life.#