Is snakehead fish good for post-surgeries?
Other than the general recommendations of diets rich in fruits and vegetables for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it is also good to include lean protein sources to aid in tissue repair and infection prevention.
In Singapore, there is a common belief that snakehead fish aka toman fish/Sheng Yu 生鱼 is good for post-surgery recuperation, due to their anti-inflammatory properties and their apparent polyunsaturated fatty acids content that are able to induce wound healing.
While we are able to easily secure supply of snakehead fish, and have no evidence to deny that snakehead fish can have medicinal properties, several factors from experience and feedback from customers led us to discontinue their sale several years ago.
1) Strong and fishy taste: post-surgery meals often include fishes in soups/steamed fish, but the strong and fishy taste of snakehead fish due to its origins of being farmed in cages or mud ponds results in a very unlikeable taste.
2) Chilled or frozen: While we have nothing against chilled or frozen fish considering we personally sell saba and cod, a combination of farmed fish from mud ponds and chilled/frozen supply further undermines their quality, and as mentioned, we always recommend steaming/cooking fishes in soups for post-surgery recuperation.
3) There are better options: Yes, it is an affordable option, and taste does not matter if it aids in recovery (hence the saying of 先苦后甜, and the reason why medications don't have flavourings added). However, there are options that are even better for recovery, freshly available and taste great in soups or from steaming, while not being significantly more expensive at the same time!
We recommend fish from wild-caught sources, freshly available from Indonesia/Malaysia. These options are our top picks for post-surgery recuperation, and for soups/porridges/steamed dishes. They are:
1) Threadfin (softest, sweetest but priciest)
2) Emperor Red Snapper (soft, sweet and not very pricey, a good balance)
3) Red Grouper (very sweet, not very soft and pretty pricey)
4) Ang Go Li / White Snapper (not soft, sweet and affordable)
5) Black Grouper (not soft, sweet and affordable)
Of course, some of the fishes are not as affordable when seeking fillet options. That is why we sell the fish heads below or at cost prices for customers seeking affordability over convenience. Fish heads are also softer and richer in nutrients.
All in all, fish is one of the best options to include in a diet for post-surgery recuperation. Picking what fish can be tricky, but knowing the balance in prices, nutrient content and taste will be helpful in that journey.
We would also recommend to include more fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. (e.g. blueberries, blackberries, oranges and apples for fruits, and leafy greens like spinach, bok choy, lettuce for vegetables for their vitamin A, C, E and K content)