When I go out to dinner with my daughters, wherever we go, they always order the same thing– salad and salmon. I, on the other hand, see the words PORK CHOP and I’m in. They like salmon because its lower in calories and cholesterol and roll their eyes at my choice. And there is so much evidence that they are on the right track. No only is fish so much lower in calories than my beloved pork chop, its omega3 fatty acids have been liked to lower rates of heart disease, better blood pressure and even less depression. In addition, The NHANES study that compared dietary habits with a wide range of health factors found that people who ate more fish had fewer wrinkles. This makes very good sense. Research has shown that the omega 3 oils in fish reduce inflammatory compounds called cytokines. Not only do these evil doers increase risk of disease, they destroy collagen which is so necessary for smooth firm skin. All good news, but I am still a little concerned about mercury levels in fish– and I am not the only one who’s worried.
Mercury is used in the manufacture of a wide range of products including thermometers, and thermostats. During manufacturing, mercury is released into the air and settles in waterways and oceans where it accumulates in the fish we will later eat. Mercury is absorbed by little fish which are eaten by bigger and bigger fish. Thus the largest of the fish like sharks and swordfish, have the highest levels of mercury. Higher levels of mercury in adults are linked to high blood pressure, memory loss and in some cases heart disease. Prenatal exposure is even worse and is linked to deafness,cerebral palsy and developmental delays. Not good news.
So should we eat or avoid fish? The current consensus is that we should have two weekly servings of fish which are low in mercury . The healthiest fish with low levels of mercury include wild salmon, clams, flounder, scallops shrimp and flounder. The fish highest in mercury also include orange roughy, tuna and grouper. Lobster, canned tuna, monkfish and striped bass have moderate mercury levels. THe NRDC ( Natural Resources Defense Council) have a wonderful chart on mercury levels in fish that you can download and keep in your purse when shopping for dinner. This chart also includes a sobering table on how much tuna you can safely eat. For example at 120 pounds you can eat tuna about 3x a month. Since I was eating tuna on whole wheat at least twice a week, this was sobering info. For a child, at around 50 pounds, the NRDC recommends eating tuna no more than once a month.
I’m ready to eat my two weekly servings of low mercury wrinkle-busting fish– and this time without gobs of butter or tarter sauce. The truth is, I don’t really know how to cook it properly. Anyone have some easy, low fat fish recipes?