Food Facts: Fish

Do you remember eating fish sticks as a child? Not only were they quick and easy for your parents to make, but they also ensured that you were getting exceptional nutrition. The American adult diet often lacks fish; this is unfortunate, because they are nutrient dense and provide excellent health benefits for your body. The American Heart Association recommends consuming at least 8 ounces of fish each week, because its benefits are so great. So, stop eating so much beef and replace it with fish!

Fish is a quality protein source that is low-fat, unlike many other meats Americans consume. The protein is a rich source of essential amino acids, which must be consumed in your diet. The fats are good fats, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids; they can help to prevent heart disease and lower blood pressure. In addition, the American Dietetic Association has found that this fat can help to maintain short-term memory; therefore, it may help to decrease your chance of Alzheimer’s disease. Besides being a good fat and protein source, fish is also a great source of many vitamins and minerals, including: riboflavin, calcium, zinc, potassium, and magnesium. With the wide variety of types of fish, as well as the numerous ways to cook them, you are sure to have at least one kind that you enjoy eating!

You may be apprehensive to try fish because of all the debate surrounding them concerning mercury levels. So, here’s the scoop. The bigger the fish and the closer it is caught to the ocean floor, the higher the mercury level it will have. Some mercury is not harmful, but excessive levels of it can be. It is important to make smart selections when choosing fish. There are a few fish that you may want to limit due to high mercury content, including: shark, mackerel, swordfish, golden bass, and golden snapper; children and pregnant women should not consume these fish. In addition, albacore tuna has a much higher mercury content than chunk-light canned tuna, so choose appropriately.

Fish should be a staple of your diet at least two times a week. Just like all foods, make healthy choices when choosing what type of fish to eat and how to prepare it. Make a change today; reach for the fish and put that hamburger down!

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References:

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

American Heart Association

American Heart Association (Additional Information)

FDA/Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

International Food Information Council Foundation



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