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Include Seafood In Your Diet

Why should seafood be included in your diet? Are you eating enough?

Nashville, Ark. – Most Americans are eating seafood, but are they eating enough? According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most people fall short of the recommended amounts.

            Why should seafood be included in your diet? Fish and shellfish, referred to as “seafood,” are nutrient-rich protein foods, and eating it at least two times a week is associated with reduced heart disease. Seafood is high in “omega-3 fatty acids”, which are healthy fats.

            It is recommended that at least two servings of seafood, or 8 ounces, be included in an overall healthy meal plan each week. Overall, about 80 to 90 percent of consumers are not meeting the recommendations.

            Additionally, a review of published studies that looked at fish consumption’s link to heart health pointed to consistent evidence supporting a reduced risk of heart disease when fish, high in Omega 3 fatty acids, was included in the diet. Fish which is high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, trout and tuna.

            While most people love fried catfish and enjoy eating it on regular basis, it is important to include other fish in the diet. It is also important to find alternative ways to enjoy fish rather than traditional fried catfish. Baked, grilled or broiled fish are all delicious ways to prepare fish.

            When buying fish, always choose fish that has been kept at a safe temperature. That often means fish is frozen when we purchase it locally. Frozen fish is high quality and some fish in the fresh case at the grocery store may have been previously frozen. Fish should have a mild smell. Strong smelling fish may be old or may have been thawed and refrozen. On fresh fish, look at the eyes and flesh of the fish. The flesh of the fish should be firm and the eyes should be clear. Fresh fish steaks and fillets should be moist with no drying around the edges. When buying frozen fish, choose packages that are free of frost and ice crystals. This is an indication the fish has been thawed and refrozen.

            If you are purchasing raw shellfish, choose it carefully. Know the seller. Buy only from approved, reputable sources. All “shell on” seafood should be shipped with a certified shippers tag.

            Always wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling raw fish and keep raw fish separate from other ready-to-eat foods. Clean and disinfect surfaces and cutting boards when preparing the fish. Kitchen tools that have come in contact with fresh or thawed fish should be cleaned in hot soapy water or disinfected in the dishwasher.

            If you plan to eat your fresh catch or fresh fish you have purchased within two days, you can store it safely in the refrigerator; otherwise, it will need to be put in the freezer. When you plan to eat it, thaw the fish in the refrigerator overnight for best results.

            It is important to keep seafood cold. Refrigerate live shellfish properly. Live shellfish, such as clams, mussels, and oysters should be stored loosely covered with a damp cloth in a well-ventilated refrigerator, not air-tight plastic bags or containers. The shell may gape naturally but should close tightly when tapped. This is an indication they are still alive. If not alive, they should be discarded.

            Fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees. It should flake easily with a fork, but use an instant read meat thermometer for checking the internal temperature. Shellfish such as shrimp and scallops turn from fairly clear to cloudy when done. Oysters, clams and mussels open their shells when they are cooked.

            Once fish has been cooked, it will stay safe at room temperature for up to two hours unless the temperature is above 90 degrees, then the time drops to one hour.

            Warm spring days are perfect for fishing. If you plan to fish one of the many lakes or pond fish, be sure to keep the fish in a live well or on a stringer until cleaned. It should be put on ice immediately once it is cleaned.

            The Food and Drug Administration has more information on keeping seafood safe. Or check out the Howard County Extension Office for a fact sheet on “Safe Handling and Preparation of Fish and Shellfish Products”. Call me at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse.

Recipe of the Week

            This is a great recipe for adding more omega-3 fish to your diet. It is easy to prepare and works great with both fresh fillets and frozen salmon steaks. Include steamed asparagus and wild rice for a delicious meal.

Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon

1pound salmon fillet or steaks

1 Tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 Tablespoon butter, melted

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon honey

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

            Place salmon, skin side down, in a shallow dish. In a small bowl, mix remaining ingredients together; pour over salmon. Cover; refrigerate at least 15 minutes but no longer than 1 hour.

            Set oven to broil. Remove salmon from marinade; reserve marinade. Place salmon, skin side down, on rack in broiler pan. Broil with top 4 to 6 inches from heat 10 to 15 minutes, brushing 2 to 3 times with marinade, until fish flakes easily with fork or internal temperature reaches 145⁰F. Discard remaining marinade.

            Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving: 270 calories, total fat: 15g, sodium: 390 mg, carbohydrates: 9g

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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