There’s no doubt you’ve heard all the perks of eating fish, but how exactly do you incorporate it into your healthy eating plan? The great thing about fish is that there are lots of choices out there so you’re sure to find a species that tantalizes your taste buds. Likewise, there are lots of ways to prepare fish so that you can enjoy a delicious meal that’s also great for your health. Here’s the best way to start eating fish and loving it.
1. Aim for Two Servings per Week
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends including at least two servings of fish per week in your meal plan. A serving is typically about 3½ ounces, or about ¾ cup cooked. You want to eat a couple of servings each week because fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which support a healthy heart and brain.
2. Use Healthy Cooking Methods when You Cook Your Fish
Fish can be a really healthy addition to any meal plan, but you have to prepare it correctly for it to stay that way. So instead of frying your fish, try it baked, grilled, roasted or smoked. These preparation methods require far less cooking fat than other types, but preserves the flavor and texture of the fish.
3. Choose Fatty Fish for the Most Health Benefits
Fatty versions of fish aren’t necessarily unhealthier than other types, but they do contain more omega-3 fatty acids that the other species. Your best bets are salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna and sardines. Each of them has a pleasant taste that works well with a variety of other ingredients so you’re sure to find something you love if you mix and match.
4. Check the Fish for Freshness before Buying
Frozen fish is generally fine because it was preserved at its peak of freshness. However, if you’re buying fresh fish, it pays to be diligent about safety. Press the fish and make sure the flesh bounces back. Sniff the filet to be sure it’s not spoiled. If the fish has eyes, make sure they are clear and not cloudy. Fish that is past its prime can make you sick so you want to avoid it at all costs.
5. Wild over Farmed?
Wild caught fish, such as salmon, is usually much pricier than the farmed version. However, health experts say that farmed fish is often treated with antibiotics since so many of the fish live in such close quarters. If you can afford the wild version, it’s probably a better choice. If not, farmed fish still has health benefits as long as you aren’t eating it in huge quantities.
6. Use Caution in Children or if You’re Pregnant
Some types of fish are high in mercury and eating them on a regular basis can leave you with too much in your system. This is especially dangerous in small children and pregnant women. In those cases, you should avoid tilefish, shark, king mackerel and swordfish so that you can limit your exposure. Your doctor can also do a quick blood test to determine what your current mercury levels are.
7. What if I Don’t like Fish?
If you simply cannot stomach fish, you still have options. You want the health benefits that fish have to offer and you can sub out the filets for an omega-3 supplement. They are often sold as fish oil capsules and can offer you some of the health perks of fish. Talk to your doctor about the appropriate amount for you.
Do you like fish? What’s your favorite way to eat it?