By Charlyn Fargo
Most of us know that fish and seafood need to be part of our menus — at least twice a week. That’s because eating fish and seafood helps our brain and our heart. Salmon, tuna and mackerel are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids, the “good” fats we should all try to consume more often. Those are the fats that are heart-healthy and can support our immune health.
Should you purchase wild-caught or farm-raised fish? A better question is, has the fish been responsibly caught? Sustainable seafood means that wild-caught seafood comes from a well-managed fishery and farmed seafood comes from a farm following responsible practices. Both are good choices. And most grocery stores and restaurants are committed to sourcing sustainable seafood.
There’s a myth that farmed fish isn’t as healthy as wild fish, especially when it comes to salmon. However, the Seafood Nutrition Partnership states on its website that farmed fish have a similar nutrient profile to that of wild fish. Both farmed and wild salmon eat krill, tiny red shrimp that give salmon flesh its pink color.
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If you’re trying to add more fish to your diet, buy from a reputable supplier; look for a seafood certification on packaging; and buy U.S. seafood when possible. For farm-raised fish, look for a logo from the Aquaculture Stewardship Council or Best Aquaculture Practices. Wild-caught fish will have documentation from the Marine Stewardship Council or Alaska Seafood.
The bottom line is that adding fish and seafood to our menus is a step toward healthier eating, no matter if the fish is wild-caught or farm-raised.
Q and A
Q: I know that whole grains are good for me. How can I include more in my meals?
A: You’re right that whole grains are good for you. Increasing your intake of whole grains may improve your health by helping to control cholesterol levels and fat metabolism, balancing blood sugar and helping your immune system. Whole-grain intake is associated with reduced risks for obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. Try to choose whole grains instead of other refined grains. Start your day with steel-cut or traditional oatmeal. Add quinoa, farro or brown rice to a salad or to roasted vegetables. And for a snack, choose a whole-grain cracker or air-popped popcorn.
Looking for a last-minute appetizer to serve? Try this Spinach-Bean Dip from Joy’s Simple Food Remedies, one of my favorite new cookbooks this year. The good news? It will also help prevent headaches and migraines, thanks to the spinach, beans and pumpkin seeds. Those foods are high in magnesium, which helps block the transmission of pain chemicals in the brain.
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach (or fresh baby spinach, chopped)
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed (or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
3-4 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds
Thaw the spinach in the microwave, and allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before squeezing out a majority of the water with paper towels. Set aside. Add the beans, lemon juice, garlic, oil, flaxseeds, salt, pepper and onion powder into the bowl of a food processor or high-powered blender, and process until the mixture is thick and creamy. Spoon the mixture into a bowl, and stir in the spinach, Parmesan and red pepper flakes. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Top with the pumpkin seeds, and serve warm or chilled with your favorite vegetables. Makes about 3 cups (serving size: 2 tablespoons).
Per serving: 45 calories; 2 grams protein; 3 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fat; 0 grams cholesterol; 1 gram fiber; 100 milligram sodium.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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