Printer Friendly

Lean Fish is a Healthy Choice, Too: If you don't care for salmon or other fatty fish, you'll still get plenty of valuable nutrients from eating leaner fish with a milder taste.

Nutrition experts constantly advise eating fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines, because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids (1,970 milligrams in 3 ounces of cooked, farmed Atlantic salmon, for example). But what about fish that isn't fatty? Leaner varieties are also healthy choices, especially if you use smart cooking methods.

Low-fat species are actually lower in calories, with less than 120 calories per 3-ounce cooked serving versus 175 for salmon. Like all fish, lean varieties are low in saturated fat, and most contain less than 60 milligrams of dietary cholesterol.

Valuable Nutrients

Lean or otherwise, fish delivers plenty of complete protein, with all of the essential amino acids your body needs. A 3-ounce serving (about the size of a deck of cards or a checkbook) provides 30 to 40 percent of your daily protein requirements. And, fish has less connective tissue than meat or poultry, so it's easier to digest.

Fish also provides several important vitamins and minerals; it is a natural source of B12 and other B vitamins that many Americans don't get enough of from their diets. You'll also get some vitamin D and minerals including selenium, zinc, iron, and iodine.

Smart Cooking

Just as important as what's in lean fish is what isn't--the calories, saturated fat, added sugar, and refined grains typically found in entrees replaced by fish. When you're eating broiled tilapia or baked cod, you aren't chowing down on burgers, pizza, hot dogs, or fried chicken.

But, much of those healthy properties are neutralized when you fry fish or slather it in butter or rich sauces. One 10-year study found that women who ate fish most often were at lower risk of heart failure--but that finding applied only to eating baked or broiled fish.

Fried fish was actually associated with increased risk; other research has linked fried fish to a greater risk of stroke. Similarly, data from the Cardiovascular Health Study linked weekly intake of broiled or baked fish with greater brain volume in MRI scans compared to participants who ate fried fish.

Other healthy ways to cook fish include steaming and grilling. Because lean fish tends to stick to the grill, consider using aluminum grill toppers or cooking in foil packets (see sidebar) with veggies and herbs.

Flaky or Firm?

The variety you're most likely to find in supermarkets is tilapia, the most commonly farmed fish in the U.S. Although it's lean, tilapia remains moist and flaky when cooked; look for fillets that are white or pinkish-white. Flounder has sweet, delicate flesh that rewards gentle cooking. It's also sold as "sole," "lemon sole," or "fluke." (Only imported "Dover sole" is actually sole.) Another popular flaky fish is snapper.

Somewhat firmer is cod, available wild year-round; small fish may be called "scrod." Cod is versatile and can be used in any recipe calling for mild whitefish. The fish in imitation crab products ("surimi") is usually pollock, a member of the cod family, but you can also buy pollock as fillets. Its flesh is firm, delicate, and slightly sweet, and it can be substituted in recipes for cod. Another cod relative is haddock (also sometimes called "scrod").

The Hawaiian favorite mahi mahi, also called "dorado" or "dolphinfish" (but unrelated to the dolphin), is increasingly available in mainland supermarkets. Bought as steaks or fillets, mahi mahi has firm white flesh and is best prepared simply. Other firm fish include grouper and rockfish.

If you cant find your favorites fresh, don't overlook flash-frozen fish labeled "Frozen-at-Sea" (FAS). According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, "Sea-frozen fish, properly handled between landing on deck and loading into the freezer, when thawed, are almost indistinguishable from fresh fish kept in ice for a few days."

If you're concerned about mercury, rest assured that lean fish are among those least prone to mercury contamination--a concern of special importance for women who are pregnant or nursing. Haddock, flounder, pollock, and tilapia are among the varieties fish that are lowest in mercury. And, if you'd like to choose your fish based on sustainability, check the Seafood Watch guide at

If you try some of the many varieties of lean fish that are available, you're bound to find a few that you enjoy--and lean fish is better than no fish at all.

For an easy, healthy meal, cook lean fish in foil packets.

1. Preheat the grill or oven to 400[degrees]F.

2. Place the fish fillet in the center of a large piece of aluminum foil drizzle it with one teaspoon of olive oil, and top it with a sprig fresh rosemary or oregano, a slice of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add some sliced onions, tomatoes, zucchini or summer squash, or other non-starchy, quick-cooking vegetables.

3. Once all of the packets are prepared, tightly seal them, place them on the grill or in the oven, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the fish is opaque. Be careful when opening the packets, since the steam will be very hot.

Caption: Mahi mahi is a lean fish with a firm texture.


Cod                    89        19
Flounder               73        13
Grouper               100        21
Haddock                76        17
Mahi mahi              93        20
Pollock               100        21
Rockfish               93        19
Snapper               109        22
Tilapia               111        23

                    VITAMIN B12    OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS

Cod                     0.9                142
Flounder                1.11               334
Grouper                 0.6                265
Haddock                 1.8                141
Mahi mahi               1.1                128
Pollock                 3.13               484
Rockfish                1.35               316
Snapper                 3.0                292
Tilapia                 1.6                165

Source: USDA National Nutrient Database
COPYRIGHT 2018 Belvoir Media Group, LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2018 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:HEALTHY EATING
Publication:Women's Nutrition Connection
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Jan 1, 2018
Previous Article:Fiber Fights Colon Cancer.
Next Article:Spice Up Your Life.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters