Fish is an important part of a balanced diet because it contains high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is one of the “good fats.” Scientific evidence shows that eating fish is associated with reduced cardiovascular risks and increased good health.
Because of the many heart-health benefits of fish, the American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of it a week, particularly oily fish such as mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines and salmon, since they contain the highest amounts of omega-3. A serving is 3.5 ounces or ¾ cup.
A concern about fish and seafood is mercury contamination, mostly in large predatory fish. Small fish consume pollutants that become more concentrated as those fish are eaten by the larger fish. Young children and women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or nursing— should avoid eating potentially contaminated fish like shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and red snapper. They should also limit their consumption of tuna to one serving a week.
Which is healthier—farmed or wild fish? Some farmed fish can have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acid than wild fish, and vice versa. The omega-3 fatty acid content of wild fish can vary by the temperature of their environment, while the omega-3 fatty acid content of farmed fish can vary based on what they are fed.
Canned and packaged fish is a great convenience food. It’s always a good idea to stock some in your pantry. Buy tuna and salmon packed in water, not oil. You’re going to save time if you buy skinless, boneless salmon, which comes in cans and pouches. You’ll save money if you buy canned salmon that still has the skin and bones with it, but you’ll also have to remove them. It’s messy, but not difficult. The bones are in the center and you can take them out in one piece.
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