The latest 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans has encouraged Americans to increase their intake of seafood to at least two times each week. Many of us do like fish but the majority of us still fall short of the recommendation of what we should be eating. According to scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately 80 to 90 percent of U.S. consumers fail to meet this guideline. Such a shame as we are missing out on valuable nutrients for good health.
Why fish needs to be on your dish
Seafood is one of the richest sources of nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, and iron. The protein found in seafood is high quality and low in fat with a 3-ounce cooked serving of most seafood providing about 20 grams of protein or a third of what the average daily recommended intake should be. This protein is easily digested and contains all nine of the essential amino acids we require.
Vitamin B12 is found naturally only in foods of animal origin making seafood a great source for it along with also being one of the few food sources naturally containing vitamin D. The minerals iron and zinc are other important nutrients we find in fish.
Another very beneficial nutrient fish contain are omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids with the other being omega-6 fatty acids.
Generally obtaining sufficient omega-6 fatty acids is not a problem. Vegetable oils, used abundantly in our food supply, are a rich source of omega-6’s. It’s the omega-3’s we tend to be lacking in and this is where seafood makes a helpful contribution since it is a natural, rich source of this type of fatty acid.
Omega-3’s are particularly important for heart health. They keep our heart in rhythm, lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, decrease triglyceride levels and ease inflammation slowing the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque.
6 ways to make fish the catch of your day
Now that you know why we need to eat more seafood, how do we go about this doing so? Many people perceive seafood as expensive or something you eat only at a restaurant as many don’t know how to cook it at home. Here are some very easy ways to make fish a regular food throughout the week:
1. Begin by slowing replacing red meat and poultry by substituting fish or shellfish at a meal each week. Eventually increase your seafood intake to at least two meals a week.
2. Give burgers a break. Try a salmon or tuna “burger” by using fresh fish steaks or canned tuna or salmon to form patties to grill or broil.
3. Canned tuna or salmon are easy, quick ideas for a lunch or dinner. Tuna noodle casserole or a tuna sandwich (go easy on the mayonnaise) are always a welcomed alternative.
4. Looking for a high protein snack? Try tuna or sardines on whole wheat crackers.
5. Instead of grilling steak, consider a salmon fillet. This same fillet can also be baked, wrapped in foil at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Spice up the flavor by adding some fresh-squeezed lemon juice and a sprinkle of paprika on top.
6. One way I love to get in my omega-3’s is to add either canned tuna or salmon to a salad, replacing grilled chicken. Simply place the tuna or salmon on leafy greens such as spinach, add other vegetables to your liking, sprinkle in some walnuts or sliced almonds, dried cranberries, sliced avocado and your favorite dressing.
If fish is a rarity at your house, try some of the suggestions listed. Before you know it, you will have fallen hook, line and sinker for fish of all kinds.