We just celebrated the Memorial Day long weekend. You know what that means: Summer is here! Take advantage of the beautiful weather by grilling and dining al fresco.
If you are at all concerned about heart disease, the number one cause of death, I encourage you to get over your fear of fish and throw some on the grill a couple of times a week. To ease your fears, I suggest you keep it simple and just grill fish with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper or fresh herbs then serve it with rice, quinoa or barley and a tossed salad, or make fish tacos with some shredded cabbage, fresh avocado, chopped tomatoes and corn tortillas. Eating at least one to two servings a week of fish, particularly salmon, lake trout, herring, sardines and tuna, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Why Fish For Nutrition? Fish is…
1. An Excellent Source of Healthy Fats – Seafood has high amounts of omega-3s. Depending on the kind of seafood, it’s particularly high in the ‘harder to get’ omega 3s, specifically EPA and DHA which are beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease. In general, seafood has benefits such as improved memory and lowering blood pressure. DHA is valuable for a pregnant woman and her growing baby’s brain development.
2. Has Less Saturated Fat – Fish is a great alternative to meats high in saturated fat such as beef. Saturated fats should be kept to a minimum because they increase LDL (bad) cholesterol which is involved in the narrowing of your arteries by sticky plaque; when your arteries get too narrow or completely blocked, that’s when you experience chest pains, a heart attack or a stroke.
3. A Source of Protein – A well-balanced meal should include protein which will help keep you fuller longer after the meal. Protein is also a building block for healthy skin, bones, muscles, enzymes, and hormones. Fish is a wonderful, low calorie source of protein. For example, three ounces of a white fish such as tilapia or cod has about 100 calories and 20 grams of protein.
4. Is an Excellent Source of Vitamin D – This vitamin has many roles: it protects against osteoporosis by helping with calcium absorption, is necessary for nerve signaling, and helps reduce inflammation. Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, mackeral and tuna is a superb source of vitamin D; a three ounce serving of sockeye salmon will give you more than 100% of your daily Vitamin D needs.
1. Shop Sustainably
Many fish today are over fished or caught n ways which damage the marine life. Seafood Watch is an app released by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It gives three categories of selection – “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives” and “Avoid.” This is a quick, easy and free way to shop sustainably while on the go.
2. Check Mercury
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautions pregnant or breasfeeding women to avoid king mackeral, shark, swordfish and tile fish from the Gulf of Mexico as well as limiting consumption of white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week.
3. Buy Fresh
When shopping, look for white fleshed fish that appears almost transparent and dark fleshed fish that is bright and vibrant in color. If you see any liquid pooling in the package or separation of the flesh, don’t buy that package; these are signs of an old package of fish. Finally, fresh fish should NEVER smell or have a fishy smell.
Preparation and Grilling Tips:
– fish such as tuna, salmon and halibut has a texture more like beef or pork which makes it great for grilling directly on the grate. More delicate fish, like tilapia, sole, and flounder sometimes fare better when grilled in a foil packet or grill basket.
– to eliminate sticking, it is important to preheat grill to a medium or high heat (400-450F) and generously oil both sides of the fish.
– general rule of thumb: allow eight to ten minutes of grill time per inch of fish.
– when it comes time to flip your piece of fish, be patient. As with meat, if the fish doesn’t release easily from the grill, it’s not done and is not ready to be flipped. To minimize breaking, only flip the piece of fish once using tongs or a spatula.
– if you are grilling a piece of fish with the skin still on and it’s ready to be taken off the grill, slide your spatula between the skin and flesh. Use a side-to-side motion so that only the flesh piece is removed with the skin remaining on the grate.