Seafood – Wawan’s Guide to a Health Diet
‘Seafood’ seems like quite a broad category when grocery shopping, with endless options like salmon, tuna, shrimp, crab and lobster all up for grabs. Beyond that, there are still choices to make at the supermarket—fresh, frozen or canned. Where do you begin?
Well, to make things a little easier for you, the Wawan team has put together all that you need to know to help make those choices count.
Seafood and your health
Seafood provides high-quality protein and is low in saturated fat. Some shellfish, like clams and oysters, are rich in iron. Seafood also contains special long-chain omega-3 fats. These fats are not found in other foods, and the best sources are fatty fish such as salmon, anchovies, sardines and mackerel.
Marine sources of omega-3 fats may help reduce chronic inflammation and help lower triglycerides and blood pressure. These fats are also vital for the brain development of infants and young children. Preliminary research suggests that these omega-3s may help relieve rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
However, there’s the question of cholesterol. Like all animal foods, most seafood contains moderate amounts (about 55 to 90 milligrams per 100 grams). Shellfish, including lobster and shrimp, have a bad reputation because they are higher in cholesterol (about 160 milligrams per 100 grams). That, however, still leaves room on your plate for shellfish, considering that the recommended cholesterol limit is 300 milligrams a day. Just watch your consumption of cholesterol from other sources on days you eat shellfish. Moreover, shrimp and lobster are very low in saturated fat, which is the bigger culprit behind high blood cholesterol levels.
How to pick the best seafood
It’s important to be sure that the seafood you buy has been handled and stored properly to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Here are a few things you need to check for:
1. Only buy fresh fish or shellfish that is refrigerated or properly iced. Fresh fish should be displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice.
2. The eyes of the fish should be clear and bulge a little.
3. Whole fish and fillets should have firm, shiny flesh and bright red gills, free of slime.
4. Don’t buy frozen seafood if the package is open, torn or crushed on the edge.
Healthy grocery shopping tips for seafood
● Choose a variety of fish and shellfish that are higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury.
● If you like shrimp, look for domestic wild-caught rather than imported farmed shrimp. So think fresh, not frozen, to ensure you get the best of shrimp!
● Buy only live oysters, clams or mussels. Do a “tap test” at the store: Live clams, oysters and mussels close up when the shell is tapped; if they don’t close, don’t buy them. And if they don’t pass the test once you get home, discard them.
● Crabs and lobsters spoil rapidly after death, so if buying fresh, choose only those that show some leg movement.
● Try calamari (squid), which is sold fresh or frozen. It’s an inexpensive and omega-3-rich seafood choice.