Seafood is not only great for your health, it's versatile, delicious and cooks in a flash. So why do so many people shy away from eating it? Here are some fun fish facts to take the mystery out of seafood and to encourage you to incorporate this naturally low-fat protein into your weekly meal plans.
Fish and shellfish are a good source of protein and other vitamins and minerals. Fish are naturally low in fat and many fish contain the highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3's are essential in helping to process food for energy. They are considered important for the functioning of the brain, eyes and nerves and evidence suggests omega-3 fatty acids also reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Fish that are high in omega-3's are the oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and herring. Some shellfish, such as mussels, oysters and crab are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Because of these great health benefits, the FDA recommends that we eat at least 2 servings of seafood each week, with one of the servings being an oily fish. Because of pollutants in our oceans, some fish contain high concentrations of mercury and other harmful toxins. The larger the fish and the fattier (or oilier) the fish, the higher the level of contaminants. Ingesting high levels of mercury is considered dangerous, particularly to pregnant women, women who are breast-feeding, the very young and the very old. Sticking to fish that are low on the food chain and thereby smaller (think sardines, anchovies, mackerel) means you'll be exposed to lower levels of mercury but will still get the benefits of the low calorie protein and omega-3 fatty acids inherent in oily fish. Eating a variety of fish and seafood is a good way to limit your exposure to contaminants.
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