Summer has arrived, which means it’s prime time for dining al fresco! Take advantage of the beautiful weather by grilling some heart-healthy seafood. Your brain and heart will thank you!
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends eating one to two servings of fish per week (about 3 ounces per serving, or 8 ounces per week) to get benefits like improved memory and lower blood pressure. Even though fish boasts a multitude of health benefits, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing fish at the market.
Why Fish For Nutrition?
Excellent Source of Healthy Fats – Seafood has high amounts of omega-3s. Depending on the kind of seafood, it’s particularly high in the ‘harder to get’ omega 3s, specifically EPA and DHA that are beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease. In general, seafood has benefits such as improved memory and lowering blood pressure. It is also valuable for pregnant women and the growing baby’s brain development.
Less Saturated Fat – Unlike heart healthy fats in fish, saturated fat increases bad (LDL) cholesterol that leads to blood vessel blockages and heart disease. Fish is a great alternative to meats high in saturated fat such as beef. (Fun fact: If fish were high in saturated fat—a solid fat—it wouldn’t be able to move so freely in water!)
Protein – A well-balanced meal contains protein that provides a feeling of fullness and satisfaction. Protein is a building block of healthy skin, bones, muscles, enzymes, and hormones. Fish is a great source of lean protein to add to your weekly plan! Three ounces of tilapia has about 110 calories and 23 grams of protein.
Vitamin D – This vitamin has many roles in the body. It protects against osteoporosis by helping with calcium absorption, is necessary for nerve signaling, and helps reduce inflammation. Fatty fish such as salmon and tuna are a great source of vitamin D; a three ounce serving of sockeye salmon will give 447 IU of vitamin D, meeting 112% of daily needs.
Abundant Options! – You will never get bored with the wide range seafood offers. Salmon, tuna, cod, and tilapia are great choices. You can keep it simple by baking with olive oil, lemon juice, and a little salt and pepper or get more creative making a rice bowl, toss it in a salad, or even put it in tacos.
How to Choose Fish
Shop Sustainably – Many breeds of fish today are over farmed or caught in ways that damage marine life. Seafood Watch is a mobile app released by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It gives three categories of selection – “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives”, and “Avoid”. This is a quick, easy, and free way to shop sustainably on the go. You can also visit their website to find local options in your state!
Check Mercury – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an advisory concerning mercury in relation to children and pregnant women. High amounts of mercury in the diet can cause nerve damage and disrupts brain development in fetuses and children. Mercury accumulates in large fish at the top of the food chain. Check with your local advisories before eating fish caught by family and friends.The EPA cautions pregnant or breastfeeding women to avoid king mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, as well as limiting consumption of white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week.
Shop Fresh – When shopping for fish, check butchered fish carefully. White fish should appear almost translucent while darker fish should be bright and vibrant in color. Also, look for pooling liquid in pre-packaged fish and separation of the musculature, which can be signs of age. Fresh fish should never smell or have an odor!