Fish is rich in protein, minerals, and certain vitamins. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have a variety of health benefits. They can improve heart health by helping to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and may reduce the risk of arrhythmias. Omega-3s are also thought to reduce inflammation it the body, leading to improvements in arthritis and joint problems. They may decrease the risk or progression of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. There is also evidence that pregnant women who eat omega 3s through low mercury seafood choices have children with improved cognitive function later in life. Pretty powerful stuff, huh?!
Here are some tips for a diet full of healthy seafood choices:
Eliminate boredom; eat a variety.
Try including different types of fish in your diet, from salmon to oysters to cod. Both fish and shellfish count towards the 8 ounce per week guidelines, so there are plenty of options out there for you to choose from.
If you’re bored with a piece of grilled or baked fish, think of other unique ways you can make fish. For example, I just made a nutritious paella with lots of delicious vegetables, whole grain couscous, and sautéed scallops! You could also try shrimp stir fry, pasta with clams, salads topped with tuna, or add grilled fish to a sandwich. Try a burger made from fish rather than meat.
Or try tacos made with fish. These can be a healthy and quick dinner option. Use whole wheat tortillas, whatever kind of fish you have available or an inexpensive option from the grocery store, and some vegetables. I’ve made tacos with tilapia and a salsa made from cucumbers, tomatoes, mandarin oranges, jalepeno, and green onions – yum!
Use healthy cooking methods and cook it safely.
Let’s move away from the fried fish fillets and breaded fish sticks. Fish can be cooked in many delicious ways that cuts down on extra calories and fat. Baking, broiling, roasting, and grilling are good options. You can use spices and seasonings to add flavor, as well as lemon or lime juice.
You also want to cook fish correctly – cooking it enough to kill bacteria, but not so much that it overcooks which can dry it out quickly. The recommendation is to cook fish to 145 degrees to ensure any unsafe bacteria are killed – use a meat thermometer to measure temperature, or look for when the fish starts to flake. For shellfish like shrimp and scallops, cook until they turn opaque (that milky white color).
Canned tuna, sardines, and salmon are all good choices. They’re inexpensive, easy to keep on hand, and can be used in a variety of ways. And a fun fact: did you know that sardines are a good source of calcium? That’s right, because they still contain those little bones, they provide a great boost of calcium for those of you who don’t like typical calcium-rich dairy products.
Avoid too many high mercury choices.
The biggest sources of mercury are from shark, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel. Check out this great list that categorizes fish by mercury level if you’re interested in learning more about what food choices are lowest in mercury and safest to eat, particularly for pregnant women.
Share with me: What’s your favorite way to include seafood in your diet?