Weekly Wellness Tip:
Best and worst seafood dishes for your health
There are several things to consider when choosing which seafood to eat. It is best to know which seafood contains mercury and which are safer if they are prepared correctly.
Salmon is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s help your heart and reduce inflammation. Canned salmon has less mercury than canned tuna. Wild salmon has fewer calories than farm raised salmon. Farm raised salmon contains more saturated fat than wild salmon. Saturated fat can raise your cholesterol level. Salmon is considered a fatty fish. Fatty fish store chemicals like PCBs and mercury in their fat. PCBs are chemicals used in coolants and lubricants for electrical equipment. The PCBs have been found in the environment and when fish eat food they also eat the PCBs attached to that food. It is then stored in the fat of the fish. Cut away extra fat, skin and darker meat to reduce the PCB level.
Swordfish usually has high levels of mercury. Is safe to eat it once in a while but you do not want to eat it too frequently. Too much mercury can cause brain or kidney damage. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those who have weakened immune systems should avoid this fish. Shark and king mackerel from the Gulf of Mexico also have high levels of mercury.
Sushi contains lean protein and omega-3s. Because sushi is made with raw fish it may contain bacteria and parasites. The sushi is not cooked so bacteria and parasites are not destroyed. Because of this, choose a reputable source when buying sushi. Mercury is common in sushi fish like ahi and Bluefin tuna. It is best to limit the amount of sushi you consume.
- Shrimp Cocktail
Shrimp is usually steamed or boiled which is a healthy way to prepare it. Shrimp is high in protein and low in fat and mercury. The sauce is the problem. Many tomato-based sauces contain a large amount of high fructose corn syrup. It is best to make the sauce yourself or skip the sauce.
- Cocktail sauce (Genius Kitchen) : Mix 1 cup ketchup, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, 1-2 tbsp. horseradish, ¼ tsp. salt, 1 dash pepper
Anchovies do not live long and they are small so they are less likely to contain mercury, PCBs and other chemicals. They are high in Omega-3s. Some packaged anchovies have lots of salt so check the label. It is better to choose white anchovies in vinegar. They contain less sodium.
- Canned Tuna
Tuna is a larger fish so it often contains mercury or other chemicals. It does contain lean protein and Omega-3s. For a lower mercury level, choose “canned light tuna”. If you like albacore tuna, look for products from the U.S. or Canada. To reduce fat and calories, choose tuna packed in water instead of oil.
- Raw Oysters
It is best to cook oysters. Cooking will destroy bacteria called vibrio which is found in many raw oysters. Hepatitis A can also be a risk if you eat raw shellfish. Lemon juice, hot sauce or alcohol WILL NOT kill vibrio. Only thorough cooking will do that.
Catfish is low in mercury, eco-friendly and nutritious. A common method for preparing catfish is to fry it. Frying adds lots of calories and fat. Baking it will make for a leaner meal.