Benefits of Fish

By Lisa Kay, MS, RD

 

I like to call fish “the other white meat” because I can use it in place of chicken in most recipes. From baked, broiled, grilled, and sauteed, there are endless ways to enjoy fish. Sometimes my patients look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them to include more fish in their diet. You know, the face with the scrunched up nose like they just smelt something bad, then I have to explain to them that I don’t mean eat tuna right out of the can! A simple bit of seasoning or marinade goes a long way with fish (to dress up canned tuna, see below for our recipe for Spicy Tuna Bowls).  I sometimes also have to remind them that I don’t mean go to Long John Silver’s three times a week either. Deep fried and and beer battered layers completely sabotages the benefits of fish, so always choose the broiled, grilled or baked option when dining out.

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One of the best benefits of fish is the omega-3 fatty acids. This is a type of “good” fat that promotes a healthy heart, reduce inflammation, and may even improve memory. The best sources of omega-3’s are salmon, trout, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel. Another great benefit of fish is that it is packed with protein to support muscle building. Fish is also low in saturated fat (the “bad” fat) and a good source of vitamin D and vitamin B2. Fish also contains essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and iodine. Financially, fish can be a good option compared to the cost of chicken and beef, especially canned tuna or salmon.

 

Environmental Impact

The big question: wild caught or farmed? According to the Mayo Clinic, there are pro’s and con’s to both. Wild caught fish are viewed as being more “natural”, but come with the concern of increasing environmental pollutants, whereas farmed fish are perceived as “manufactured”, but are nutritionally superior. The best consideration is to buy U.S. sourced fish to ensure sustainability and safety and to buy local if able.

 

How much should I eat?

For general, healthy adults, 2-3 3.5 ounce servings of fish per week is recommended to be included in a healthy diet. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic recommend pregnant women eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish per week. It is recommended that women and children avoid fish that contain high levels of mercury, which include shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.

 

Check out our recipes below to incorporate more fish into your diet!
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Spicy Tuna Bowl

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Honey Mustard Salmon and Potatoes

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Shrimp Pasta Primavera

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Blackened Fish Tacos