When I tell people I’m a vegetarian, they always ask me if I eat fish. I don’t. Some vegetarians will not eat any meat, except for fish, which means they are called a Pescatarian. The main reason I don’t eat it is because I don’t really like it and it’s a bit too pricey for a Dietetic Intern. However, I was recently asked to write about the health benefits of fish for a newsletter about National Nutrition Month. Fish is the “superfood of the month” at the Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home (my current clinical rotation). So, I spent a few hours reading about the many advantages of eating fish, and I considered possibly adding it to my diet! Here’s why it’s so good for you…
How often do you eat fish? The current dietary recommendations are to eat fish at least twice a week to receive its many health benefits. An intake of 8 ounces of fish (aka 20% of your total protein intake) has been linked to positive health outcomes. Fish’s good reputation can be attributed to its high volume of omega-3 fatty acids. One omega-3, known as DHA, helps with cognition, memory function, and brain performance. Studies have shown that high omega-3 consumption may result in lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of heart attacks. Conversely, low intake of DHA have been associated with a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in later years. Fatty fishes like mackerel, herring, trout, tuna, salmon, and trout have the highest omega-3 content. Fish is great for both your head and your heart.
Tips to Eat More Fish:
Get creative: Think beyond the traditional preparation for fish; try cooking it in new and creative ways! Try fish patties, a shrimp stir-fry, fish tacos, or linguine with clam sauce. Add variety by trying a fish that is new to you!
Feed your kids: Consumption of omega-3 fats can aid in nervous system development in infants and children. The recommendation for children is the same as adults—twice a week in child sized appropriate portion.
Know your portions: Remember that 8 ounces is the recommended amount of fish per week. A drained can of tuna is about 3-4 ounces, a salmon steak is usually 4-6 ounces, and 1 small trout is about 3 ounces.
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