Fish: Some people love eating it, and some people do not. But its health benefits are something that everyone can agree on.
“Studies show that increasing your fish intake is good for you, especially your heart,” says Jane DeWitt, clinical nutrition coordinator of Food and Nutrition Services for Hackettstown Medical Center. “It’s leaner than red meat and some, like salmon, arctic char and sardines, are full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for your heart.”
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fatty acids for human health, can help reduce inflammation as well as the risk for heart disease, notes DeWitt. The American Heart Association recommends up to two servings of fish per week, up to 12 ounces total.
An Acquired Taste
Eating more fish is easier said than done for some people, according to Mary Finckenor, registered dietitian for Morristown Medical Center. She cites the smell as one of the biggest reasons her patients avoid eating fish at home.
“They can’t stand the scent – it’s a real obstacle for them,” she says. “Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize it.”
Finckenor proposes closing the doors to keep the scent from spreading throughout the house. Christina Lavner, registered dietitian for Chilton Medical Center, also suggests using microwave-safe bags to cook fish, but only in the microwave.
“You take your fish out, zip up the bag and throw it away – there’s no smell,” Lavner says.
Another reason some people dislike fish: the taste. Sabrina Lombardi, clinical nutrition coordinator of Food and Nutrition Services for Newton Medical Center, suggests that these individuals start with white fish, which tend to be milder in flavor than other species.
“Cod, flounder and tilapia are some of the lighter fish that can help people ease into increasing their intake,” she says.
Everything in Moderation
When it comes to fish, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Mercury, a naturally occurring metal, is often found in fish in varying amounts – and too much of it can prove dangerous for humans. People should avoid or limit some fish – like swordfish, shark and albacore tuna – due to their high mercury levels, says Lavner, but most people have nothing to worry about if they follow the recommended servings.
“As long as you aren’t eating fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, you should be fine,” Lavner says.
For more information about the heart-healthy benefits of fish, visit the American Heart Association >