Dish more Fish!


Did you know February is national heart month? Heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both women and men in the United States.

What's that got to do with fish?

Fish and seafood are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are associated with lower risk for heart disease, stroke, and chronic inflammation. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends we eat seafood or fish for two meals per week (about 8 ounces) to get enough essential fatty acids EPA and DHA. Salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, trout, and certain types of tuna are among the varieties with the most omega-3 fatty acids.

Despite how important fish is to the diet, the vast majority of Americans (80-90%) do not meet this recommendation. This could be for a variety of reasons, including perception of seafood safety, cost, environmental concerns, as well as lack of knowledge of seafood preparation.

The good news is there is a lot of seafood that is safe to eat, particularly if you follow a few rules. This includes buying as local as possible and avoiding larger fish that has more mercury. Fish to AVOID due to higher mercury levels include: King mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, ahi tuna, and bigeye tuna. This is particularly important for pregnant women to take note.

For more, check out this smart seafood buying guide from the NRDC as well as this handy seafood tool from the Environmental Defense Fund that allows you to compare types of fish by mercury levels, omega-3 levels, and environmental impact all in one.

So, if you know you want salmon for dinner but aren’t sure which one to get, click on salmon and it will show you that wild Alaskan and canned salmon scores highest on all three indicators.

Now that you know some basics of what types of seafood are safest and highest in omega-3's, let’s get to the fun part… how to cook them up!

If you are intimidated by preparing seafood, don’t be. It is one of the easiest and fastest types of proteins you can cook. You don’t have to marinate in advance, and the simplest seasoning is often the best! Many can be done in 15 minutes and under. Here are some of my favorite fast, easy, and delicious fish recipes:

  1. Roasted salmon glazed with Dijon mustard and brown sugar (3 ingredients!)

  2. Cod in foil packets with squash

  3. Basic roasted fish, any type

For more easy fish recipes, follow my pinterest page

What if I don’t like fish? Do I have to eat it in order to get these wonderful omega-3's?

Fish is the best source our bodies can get for the two types of omega-3's that are essential: EPA and DHA. Why? Because fish eat algae and efficiently (I should say effishently) convert ALA into the superstars EPA and DHA. Humans can also convert ALA into EPA and DHA, but unfortunately we are not very efficient.

Walnuts, flaxseeds, canola oil, soybean oil, and dark green vegetables all contain ALA and should be incorporated into the diet. But the amount of EPA and DHA we derive from these plant sources is unmatched to that of fish. (To put it in perspective, only about 2-10% of ALA gets converted into EPA and DHA).

Whatever your reasons, if you do not/ will not/ cannot eat fish, I would recommend eating plant foods high in ALA, eggs fortified with EPA/ DHA, and possibly take a fish oil supplement. Look for supplements with at least 250-500 mg of EPA & DHA per serving. Come back later for more information about omega-3 supplements for a future post!

Sources:

http://advances.nutrition.org/content/3/1/1.full

https://www.ars.usda.gov/news-events/news/research-news/2015/consumers-missing-out-on-health-benefits-of-seafood-consumption/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil-alpha-linolenic-acid/dosing/hrb-20059372

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