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Super Foods of the Sea

Submitted by Mackenzie Bowman, RD, LDN

Ever hear of the phrase “good kind of fat” and wondered what exactly those are? Well I am here to help by talking about one of the best sources of healthy fat to include in your diet – Omega 3 Fatty Acids. While these Omega 3’s can be found in a variety of foods, such as flaxseed, walnuts, and olive oil, the best source is seafood. 

It is recommended as part of a healthy diet to consume at least 8 ounces of seafood per week so aiming to include it in your meals two to three times a week is ideal. While all seafood can be included in a healthy diet, there are some types that should be limited to consumption once per week, and those are - Mahi Mahi, Tuna (fresh), Red Snapper, Halibut, and Lobster. Looking for something to eat more often? Try Sea Bass, Butterfish, Catfish, Clams, Scallops, Salmon, Crab, Flounder, Oysters, Pollock, Shrimp, Squid, Tilapia, Trout, Tuna (canned), Herring, or Sardines two to three times per week. These fish tend to have lower risk for contamination. When looking at farm raised vs wild-caught fish, try to stick to wild-caught fish whenever possible to avoid the possibility of harmful antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals. If nursing or pregnant, it is wise to avoid Mackerel, Marlin, Shark, Tuna, and Swordfish due to Mercury levels.  While cooking removes about 50% of toxic chemicals, Mercury is not removed.  If you are wondering which seafood choices are highest in Omega 3’s, look no further than Salmon, Fresh Tuna, Trout, Mackerel, Herring, Oysters, Sea Bass, and Sardines, which all have greater than 500 mg per serving.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids are not the only benefit to seafood consumption. It is also a great source of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D which are two common deficiencies. Seafood also provides the same type of iron as meat and chicken which is more bioavailable than plant proteins, meaning that your body can better use that source of iron. Regular seafood intake is associated with reduced risk of heart disease, reduced risk of obesity, reduced Alzheimer’s risk, improved skin and hair, reduced risk of depression, and boosted brain development.

Summer is the best time to start including seafood in your diet. It is a great alternative to high fat meats and can be the perfect protein source at any cookout, or just a simple dinner at home. When it comes to cooking your seafood, the best methods to choose are grilling, baking, broiling, poaching, steaming, and sautéing in olive oil. Avoid frying or sautéing in excessive amounts of oil or butter when preparing meals.  Seafood goes great with salad, fresh vegetables, pasta, rice, and more, as well as in sandwiches, or soup. From lemon and thyme to old bay and garlic and everything in between, there are various methods of preparation to enjoy. The best way to find which seafood you like best is to give them all a try.

Experimenting with new foods is always fun, which provides an added bonus to the health benefits you will receive.

Mackenzie Bowman, RD, LDN, joined Beebe Healthcare in July 2016 as a Medical Nutrition Therapist. She received her degree from the University of Delaware in May 2015 and then graduated from Aramark’s Distance Dietetic Internship Program in May 2016.

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