But bad news about toxins in fish has us wondering if it's such a catch after all. Some species are contaminated with toxins that have been linked to Alzheimer's disease, cancer, adverse effects on the immune system, and more.
If you're casting about for answers, some encouraging news: one recent study found that people who ate seafood had a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, and that the benefits of eating seafood outweighed potential risks from exposure to toxins. So rather than scaling back, seafood lovers should choose wisely. Because recommendations change frequently, visit the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector guide, for up-to-the-minute safe-seafood choices (oceansalive.org). And try our clean seafood recipes. You'll be hooked all over again.
Not a fish lover? That's OK! When it comes to getting all the wonderful benefits of healthy fats, there are many options today. The following foods and supplements all provide omega fatty acids, particularly the potent omega-3 fats found in cold-water fish.
The chief fat in açai is the omega-9 fat oleic acid, also the chief fat in olive oil. The açai fruit is also a good source of omega-6 fat and contains a small amount of omega-3s. Açai is available as juice, freeze-dried powder, and as an extract in capsules. Not all açai products contain the fat of the fruit, so check ingredient labels.
CHIA and FLAX
Both chia and flax contain higher levels of omega-3 than omega-6. Both are available as whole or ground seeds and as oil.
DHA from ALGAE
Certain algae are a rich vegetarian source of this omega-3 fatty acid. Supplements of algae-derived DHA are available for adults and children, including flavored, chewy versions. Algae DHA is also added to a variety of foods, including some milk and juices.
Naturally high in EPA and DHA, fish oil is the most concentrated source of omega-3s, and fish oil supplements are usually free of mercury or toxins found in fish. Krill, tiny sea creatures eaten by whales, are another source of these fatty acids.
Hemp seeds naturally contain a healthy balance of omega-3, -6, and -9 fats, with two bonuses. As well as the ALA form of omega-3 found in flax and chia, hemp is a unique source of stearidonic acid, another type of omega-3 that converts to EPA and DHA.
Phytoplankton are microscopic plant-like organisms in our oceans that contain EPA and DHA. You can find this as a supplement at health food stores.
SACHA INCHI OIL
Oil from sacha inchi seeds contains nearly half omega-3 fatty acids, more than one-third omega-6 fats, and some omega-9, a combination that can help to reverse the omega-6 overload in American diets.
Cod Baked in Thai Green Curry Sauce
A creamy, Thai-style sauce adds exotic flavor to simple white fish. Adjust the curry paste to your taste, and use light coconut milk if you prefer. Serve with a side of basmati rice and a salad of cucumber, red pepper, green onions, cilantro, and chopped peanuts.
1 can coconut milk, in BPA-free can
3 tsp. green curry paste
1 Thai pepper, seeded and minced
1 2-inch segment fresh ginger, coarsely grated
2 stalks lemon grass, tough outer leaves removed, bulbs cut into
3-inch segments and split length-wise
½ cup Thai basil, cut into thin strips
4 6-oz. pieces of Pacific cod
Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Hot chili oil for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In medium pan, whisk together coconut milk, curry paste, and minced pepper. Holding ginger over pan, squeeze to extract juice into pan; discard solids. Add lemongrass segments. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, 6 to 8 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stir in basil, and season with salt and white pepper.
- Pour a small amount of sauce into an 8-inch-square baking dish. Arrange fish on sauce, and pour remaining sauce over fish. Cover dish with foil and bake at 400°F until fish is opaque and flaky, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Spoon a bit of sauce into the center of four individual plates. Place a piece of fish on each puddle, and spoon additional sauce on top of each portion of fish. Garnish with cilantro sprigs and drops of hot chili oil around plate, if desired, and serve immediately.
per serving: 340 cal; 33 g prot; 22 g total fat (19 g sat fat); 4 g carb; 63 mg chol; 202 mg sod; 1 g fiber; 0 g sugars
Pan-Seared Scallops with Shallots, Wild Mushrooms and Arugula
This simple but gorgeous dish is an elegant appetizer; or serve it as a light entrée with a side of linguine tossed with olive oil and garlic, and a generous salad.
1 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium shallots, sliced into thin rings
1 lb. wild mushrooms (shiitake caps, oyster mushrooms, lobster, or others), thinly sliced
¼ cup mirin (Japanese cooking wine) or sweet white wine
20 medium to large sea scallops (about 2 lb.)
- Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot rings and mushrooms. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until mushrooms are lightly browned, stirring frequently. Stir in mirin, reduce heat to low, cover and cook until mushrooms and shallots are soft and golden-brown, 5 to 7 minutes longer.
- While mushrooms are cooking, heat olive oil in large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Dry scallops thoroughly. Season with white pepper and sear on one side without turning, until golden, about 3 minutes. Turn scallops over, reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking, uncovered, until scallops are firm and opaque in the center, about 3 minutes longer.
- Transfer mushrooms from pan to a plate and cover to keep warm. Rinse arugula, and shake dry. With water still clinging to leaves, drop into hot mushroom pan. Add 1 Tbs. water and cook until just wilted, about 1 minute.
- To serve, divide arugula between four individual plates, arranging in circle. Mound mushrooms in center of each arugula circle. Arrange scallops on top of mushrooms, and serve immediately.
per serving: 498 cal; 77 g prot; 10 g total fat (2 g sat fat); 27 g carb; 183 mg chol; 884 mg sod; 3 g fiber; 4 g sugars
Chipotle-Lime Shrimp Tacos
If you're pressed for time, pick up a pound of grilled peppers and other vegetables from the deli and skip the vegetable-grilling step, for even faster prep.
1 red pepper, cut into ½-inch strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into ½-inch strips
1 small red onion, cut into ¹⁄³-inch thick rings
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. medium shrimp (16 to 20), peeled and deveined
1 tsp. chipotle powder
2 Tbs. olive oil
8 white corn tortillas
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
Sour cream for garnish
Salsa for garnish
- Prepare grill, or preheat oven broiler to high and place rack 4 inches below heat.
- Lightly coat peppers and onions with 1 Tbs. olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill over medium flame for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until lightly charred. (Alternatively, broil under high heat, stirring and turning once or twice, for about 10 minutes.)
- While vegetables are cooking, cut 2 of the limes into wedges and set aside. Zest one of remaining limes; halve both remaining limes, and squeeze juice into medium bowl. Add lime zest to bowl.
- Add shrimp and chipotle powder to bowl, and mix with hands to coat shrimp. Heat remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil in medium skillet. Add shrimp, and sauté until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.
- While shrimp is cooking, warm tortillas in steamer basket or microwave.
- To serve, divide shrimp and grilled vegetables between tortillas. Top with avocado slices and cilantro sprigs. Arrange 2 tacos on each serving plate with wedges of lime. Serve immediately, with salsa and sour cream.
per serving: 358 cal; 23 g prot; 15 g total fat (2 g sat fat); 35 g carb; 140 mg chol; 166 mg sod; 7 g fiber; 4 g sugars
Perfect Poached Salmon, with Bitter Greens Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette
This classic dish is ready in 20 minutes, with a foolproof procedure that makes it perfect, every time.
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 salmon fillets
4 tsp. tamari
5 garlic cloves, finely minced
5 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 small head frisee
1 small head radicchio
1 medium Belgian endive
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. walnut oil
¼ cup olive oil
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish
- Heat oil in large skillet. Season fillets with salt and white pepper, and place in pan, skin side down. Sear 1 to 2 minutes, until golden crust forms.
- Turn salmon over, and sprinkle top with tamari, 4 of the garlic cloves, and 4 tsp. of the minced rosemary. Add ½ cup water to pan, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 10 to 12 minutes, adding more water if needed to keep level ¼- to ½-inch deep.
- Tear lettuces into bite-sized pieces and toss together in medium bowl. In small bowl, whisk together mustard, vinegar, remaining garlic, and remaining rosemary. Whisk in walnut oil and olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle dressing over salad to lightly coat leaves, and toss to mix well.
- Remove cooked salmon from pan, peeling skin off if necessary. To serve, divide salad between four plates, arrange a fillet beside each salad, and garnish with fresh rosemary springs.
per serving: 368 cal; 40 g prot; 20 g total fat (4 g sat fat); 4 g carb; 80 mg chol; 451 mg sod; 1 g fiber; 1 g sugars