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Brain Food: Salmon and Tuna, Seafood That's Smart

This entry is part of a series, Brain Food»

Smoked Salmon

Salmon and tuna are two popular fishy protein choices in America today. The omega-3 fats from these fish are well-known to promote a variety of health improvements to everything from the cardiovascular system to the skin. The brain may benefit the most, however.

Canned tuna and salmon retain most of the health benefits of fresh fish, since the major nutrients of interest are the fats and the protein; canning doesn’t damage those much. Canned albacore tuna is considered a risk by some, as elevated levels of mercury have been found in that meat. (Women and children: Limit your intake of white albacore!) Light tuna appears to be fine. When possible, use tuna canned in water, as you reduce the extra calorie load that “canned in oil” tuna provides.

Tuna Sashimi

So we agree, this stuff should be in your diet! How to get what you need while avoiding boredom? I mean, if you scan classic salmon or tuna steak recipes, you don’t find a lot of variety. (Okay, maybe tuna has a few more options overall, as canned tuna can be found in most home pantries these days.) Grill them or bake them; add them to salads; use smoked salmon or tuna for appetizers and sandwiches; sushi and sashimi are pretty obvious apps; and there’s the “comfort food” side of these fishies, in casseroles, patties and melts.

Some reports indicate you should avoid farm-raised salmon, due to the poor nutrition of the feed used in their aquaculture. If you don’t know (or can’t learn) what that salmon in the monger’s case was raised on, then go with the wild-caught salmon. It’s almost always pricier, but worth it.

Tuna Fish

One note: While a lot has been claimed for omega-3 fatty acids, it appears that the best options should include omega-6 fats too. These nutrients are found in seeds and nuts (walnuts!), plant-based unsaturated oils and soy foods. So how ’bout walnut-crusted salmon steaks? Sounds yummy to me…

Enjoy the (Swimmin’ Good Fish) Heat!

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