Eat fish for health, for flavor

October 16, 2002|by LYNN F. LITTLE

Fish is a fabulous food - versatile, quick, and packed with health benefits. Fresh, frozen, canned or dried, all types of fish can fit into a healthy eating style. Here are six super tips to help you go fishing for great taste, good health and food safety.

  • Eat fish for great taste.

    The only problem with choosing fish is that there are so many options - over 20,000 fresh and saltwater species and maybe a million recipes. Need help? Talk to your local supermarket butcher, get a fish cookbook or go online to troll for recipe ideas.

  • Eat fish to protect your heart.

    The American Heart Association has good reason to recommend two fish meals per week (with 3 to 4 ounces of fish per person per meal). The omega-3 fatty acids in fish (especially in darker-colored fish like salmon and trout) significantly reduce heart disease risk in women and men.

  • Eat fish to prevent cancer.

    Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, including prostate and breast cancer cells. Despite lots of hype and advertising, there is no proof yet that fish oil supplements provide the same health benefits as whole fish.

  • Eat fish to build strong bones.

    Fresh, frozen and canned fish can also help maintain strong skeletons. Fish is an excellent source of high-quality protein and a natural source of vitamin D. Canned sardines and salmon also provide calcium, because you eat the bones right along with the fish.

  • Eat fish for better babies.

    Studies have shown that pregnant women who eat fish once a week can lower the risk of pre-term or low birth-weight babies. To avoid potential mercury contamination, the FDA suggests that pregnant women stay away from swordfish, shark, snapper and fresh tuna.

  • Eat fish with safety in mind.

    For the safest seafood possible, choose it, store it, and cook it carefully. Buy fresh fish that is bright and moist, with no fishy smell, bruises, or colored spots. Keep it wrapped in the coldest part of your fridge (or on ice). Cook thoroughly until the flesh flakes easily and reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

    If you would like additional information on including fish as part of your healthy eating plan, send a self addressed, stamped (37 cent) business-size envelope to Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County Office, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713. Mark the envelope, "Fish."

  • Skillet Fish Dish

    • 2 pounds fresh or frozen fish steaks or fillets

    • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and sliced

    • 1/2 small zucchini squash, sliced

    • 1/4 cup chopped onion

    • 1/4 cup chopped green pepper

    • 1 clove garlic, minced

    • 2 tablespoons snipped parsley

    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

    • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram, crushed

    Thaw fish, if frozen. In an electric skillet, cook tomatoes, garlic, onion and green pepper until onion is tender. Stir in zucchini, lemon juice and marjoram. Move vegetables to side.

    Arrange fish in skillet and spoon vegetables over fish. Cover and cook (moderate heat) about 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

    Serves 6.

    Cooking tip: Use the 10-minute rule for cooking fish. Cook fish 10 minutes per inch of thickness, turning the fish halfway through the cooking time. Pieces less than 1/2-inch thick do not have to be turned over. Use a food thermometer to determine an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

    Fish Chowder

    • 3 medium sized potatoes, cut into cubes

    • 1 stalk celery, chopped, optional

    • 1/2 onion, chopped

    • 2 cups water

    • 1 teaspoon salt

    • 1 teaspoon basil

    • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

    • 2 cups frozen corn

    • 2 tablespoons margarine

    • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated skim milk

    • 1 pound white fish fillets

    Steam potatoes just until fork tender. Set aside. In a large pot, saute onion and celery in margarine until tender. Add potatoes, water, salt, basil, pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Gently place fish fillets on top of potatoes, cover and simmer until fish flakes easily (about 10 minutes).

    Carefully stir in corn and evaporated skim milk. Heat until corn and milk are hot. Do not allow soup to boil. Serve immediately.

    Makes 9 one-cup servings.

    Lynn Little is the family and consumer science educator with the Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County.

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