Author: Linda Cornish, Executive Director, Seafood Nutrition Partnership
Heart disease is very real to me as it runs in my family. My mother is a stroke survivor, and I am the only one in my immediate family without high blood pressure.
This is a very personal issue for many of us as heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans and we all have someone close to us at risk of this silent killer. Yet many of us do not know about one of the simplest dietary changes a person can make for heart health: eating seafood twice a week.
It’s important to know that seafood is a lean protein packed with good things for your heart, including essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, along with selenium, vitamins and minerals. And it’s no coincidence that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommends even more seafood as it is included in such heart-healthy dietary patterns as in the Mediterranean diet and DASH Eating Plan.
Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian of the Harvard School of Public Health has stated that “seafood is likely the single most important food one can consume for good health.” In his research studies, Dr. Mozaffarian observed that eating seafood twice a week reduced the risks of dying from heart disease by 36 percent.
Given the amount of data demonstrating the health benefits of seafood, it is surprising to learn that, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), only one in five American adults and one in 10 American children eat the twice-per-week amount of seafood recommended by the USDA/HHS Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
But this makes sense as although most people know that seafood is good for their health many do not know how to cook or order it. Others aren’t sure which type of seafood to buy. Still others think it’s too expensive, or they don’t know if they’ll like the different textures in seafood.
Sound like something you’d say? Well, you might not realize how easy it is to add more seafood into daily meals. Here are five tips to try a heart-healthy, seafood-rich diet.
1. Get to know your grocer’s seafood department. The seafood experts at your local market are the first folks you’ll want to meet. Whether you have questions about the grocer’s fish suppliers or the amount of seafood to buy for your next dinner party, just ask—their job is to help.
2. Don’t assume that seafood is out of your budget. There are new flash-freezing technologies that preserve seafood at the point it’s caught, so high-quality seafood can now be found in more affordable frozen products. Canned or dried seafood products are also very affordable and can be conveniently stored in the pantry.
3. Be a little more adventurous when eating out. Next time you’re at a restaurant, resolve to try a type of seafood you’ve never had before, or try it with a new cooking preparation or spice profile. For heart-health purposes, try it baked, broiled, boiled, steamed or pan-seared.
4. Save time at home by keeping frozen and canned seafood on hand. On average, frozen seafood thaws in about five to ten minutes. The average cooking time for seafood in general is under 15 minutes.
5. Mix things up. Eating different varieties of seafood is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Savor the range of tastes: Just as coffee beans and wine grapes acquire different tastes depending on where they’re grown, seafood flavors vary based on the area of origin.
Be good to your heart by making this one simple change!
The authors of this blog include the general public sharing the health impacts they have achieved through the Healthy Heart Pledge. We invite you to share your story!