Fish 101: From preparing and cooking to the healthiest to eat as well as recipes you will want to try.

From the Washington Post


Why eating fish is so good for your health

The advantages of eating seafood as you get older — it’s no fish story put out by Big Sushi. Fish is loaded with nutrients that are crucial for healthy aging, such as high-quality protein, ­iodine, selenium and zinc. And it has more vitamins B12 and D — necessary for brain health and bone health, respectively — than any other food you can eat. But perhaps most important, it’s the best source of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

These polyunsaturated fats, found in all cell membranes, help cells communicate with one another and have been linked to a lower risk of many conditions.

“Omega-3s have been shown to reduce blood clots [which can cause heart attack or stroke] because they prevent blood platelets from getting sticky,” says Julia Zumpano, a dietitian at the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. “They also lower triglycerides — fat that can accumulate in the arteries — reduce blood pressure and inflammation, and increase levels of good cholesterol.”

Omega-3 fatty acids also appear to help prevent other problems that can come with growing older, such as muscle and bone loss — and possibly even cognitive issues. The health effects are so widespread that a 2018 study of older adults published in the journal BMJ found that having higher blood levels of omega-3s from fish is linked to healthier aging — reducing the risk of having a chronic disease or serious mental or physical problems by 24 percent compared with having low levels.

Fish vs. supplements

To get the health benefits of omega-3s, the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3½-ounce servings of nonfried fish per week. Fish supplies the two types of omega-3s that studies suggest have the greatest health benefits: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), another omega-3, is found in plant foods such as chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, soybeans and certain vegetable oils. Our bodies can turn ALA into EPA and DHA, but not efficiently.

Fish oil supplements contain EPA and DHA, too, but most studies have not found pills to be as helpful as simply eating seafood.

For exam­ple, a 2018 analysis of studies involving a total of 77,917 men and women at high risk for cardiovascular disease published in the journal JAMA Cardiology found no benefit to taking omega-3 supplements, even in people who had diabetes or prior heart disease. Moreover, when you opt for pills over fish, you don’t get the other nutrients fish contains.

“Some of the benefits of fish may be because it replaces meat in your diet, so I’d skip the supplements and spend the money on a salmon dinner,” says David Siscovick, senior research scientist at the New York Academy of Medicine.

The mercury problem

One concern about upping your fish consumption is that it can also mean you increase your intake of mercury. You’ve probably heard that pregnant women and young children should avoid this heavy metal, which can cause damage to developing brains. But it’s a misconception that you age out of the threat of mercury overload. In adults, it can cause neurological problems and result in memory loss, weakness and numbness, and tremors.

Fortunately, there are many fish that are low in mercury and high in omega-3s, as “Pick your fish” shows.

Solutions for the fish-averse

In the end, the healthiest fish may simply be the kind you actually eat. But fish poses some obstacles for many people:

Cost can be a concern: Seafood can be pricey, but inexpensive options are available, says Jean Halloran, former director of food policy initiatives at Consumer Reports. For example, some of the cheapest fish, such as anchovies and sardines, are also tops in omega-3s. “And canned salmon is not only economical, it’s all wild-caught Alaskan salmon, which is the healthiest type,” she says. She also says light chunk canned tuna is a better pick than pricier albacore because it’s a low-mercury option.

Cooking fish can feel intimidating: People who don’t live in a coastal area where fish is readily available or who didn’t grow up eating a lot of fish might not have the first idea about how to prepare it. “And if they have a couple of bad fish-eating experiences,” Zumpano says, “that can really deter them.” To get started, Halloran recommends taking a filet of flounder or sole — or whatever healthy fish you like — drizzling olive oil on both sides, squeezing a little lemon on top and broiling until it turns opaque and flaky. And, of course, a salmon or tuna salad sandwich will give you fish points for the week. Zumpano also recommends ordering fish at restaurants. “Most Americans eat out at least once a week,” she says, adding that we also tend to take in more calories when we do. Getting broiled fish can help safeguard against that.

Fish tastes like fish: Let’s face it, there are some inveterate fish haters among us. But Halloran suggests giving it one more shot. “Fish goes bad quicker than anything, so make sure that what you’re getting is really fresh,” she says. If you can, buy from a market that gets fresh shipments daily. Fish should smell mild and clean, not fishy or sour. Filets shouldn’t be discolored or dry around the edges, and the flesh should be firm and should spring back when pressed. For whole fish, look for clear, shiny eyes.

What if the fish you like is lower in omega-3s? Eat it anyway. “It’s still good for you,” Zumpano says, “and variety is important.”

Pick your fish

How to make the healthiest choice? The following list of fish is organized into two healthy groups, depending on their omega-3 content, and one group to avoid.

Great choices: High in omega-3s

 • Anchovies

• Atlantic mackerel

• Herring

• Oysters

 • Pacific chub mackerel

 • Sardines

 • Shad

 • Trout

 • Wild and Alaskan salmon (canned or fresh)

Good choices: Lower in omega-3s (but still healthy)

 • Atlantic croaker

 • Canned light tuna

 • Catfish

 • Crab

• Flounder and sole (flatfish)

 • Haddock

 • Lobster

 • Mullet

 • Pollock

• Shrimp (wild and most U.S. farmed)

 • Tilapia

 • Scallops

 • Squid (wild)

Eat rarely, if ever: High in mercury

 • Bigeye tuna

• Gulf tilefish

 • King mackerel

 • Marlin

 • Orange roughy

Omega-3s in Rx form?

It may be reasonable for a doctor to prescribe an Rx form of omega-3s to patients with high triglycerides, Siscovick says. A recent study found that giving 4 grams of EPA supplement a day to people with high triglycerides who had cardiovascular issues and were on statins led to a 25 percent reduction in heart attacks compared with a placebo group. But for others, there’s not enough evidence to show a megadose would be helpful, Siscovick says.

Copyright 2019, Consumer Reports Inc.

Foolproof Fish


Foolproof Fish teaches you, in full detail, how to cook 23 varieties of fish, plus shellfish, no matter where you live. We provide four of the book’s recipes.

You don’t have to live by the sea to enjoy fresh seafood for dinner. With Foolproof Fish: Modern Recipes for Everyone, Everywhere, by America’s Test Kitchen, you can learn to cook 23 varieties of fish, plus shellfish, no matter where you live.

This versatile cookbook includes recipes for varieties of fish including salmon and catfish, tuna and bluefish, and shellfish like crab and lobster. Plus, it includes helpful substitutions in case the fish you’re looking for isn’t available in your area.

In addition to providing 198 tried-and-true recipes, Foolproof Fish covers important topics like how to properly treat a pan, how to prevent fish from breaking apart when you flip it, and to what internal temperature the fish should be cooked.

It also answers questions like which varieties work best for stews, the best way to serve various fish, and even how to prepare and crack lobster.

Fish is fresh, delicious, and a cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet—and now, Foolproof Fish makes preparing and serving it easier than ever.

Here, Life Extension® highlights recipes from the book that feature four different types of fish. Enjoy.

—Laurie Mathena

Salmon, Avocado, Grapefruit, and Watercress Salad

Serves 4

Substitutions: Arctic Char or Wild Salmon

2 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets, 1 inch thick

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3/4 teaspoon table salt, divided

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 red grapefruits

1 small shallot, minced

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 ounces (4 cups) watercress, torn into bite-size pieces

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, and sliced 1/4-inch thick

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, torn

1/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned, and chopped

  1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place aluminum-foil–lined, rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Make 4 or 5 shallow slashes, about 1 inch apart, on skin side of each fillet, being careful not to cut into flesh. Pat salmon dry with paper towels, rub with 1 teaspoon oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees and remove sheet from oven. Carefully place salmon skin-side down on prepared sheet. Roast until center is still translucent when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer salmon to plate. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes. Using 2 forks, flake salmon into rough 2-inch pieces, discarding skin.
  3. Meanwhile, cut away peel and pith from grapefruits. Holding fruit over bowl, use paring knife to slice between membranes to release segments. Measure out 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice and transfer to separate bowl.
  4. Whisk shallot, vinegar, mustard, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt into bowl with grapefruit juice. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil until combined. Arrange watercress in even layer on serving platter. Top with salmon pieces, grapefruit segments, and avocado. Drizzle dressing over top, then sprinkle with mint and hazelnuts. Serve.

Baked Scallops with Couscous, Leeks, and Orange Vinaigrette

Serves 4 

Substitutions: none 

1 pound leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly

1 cup Israeli couscous

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for serving

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/8 teaspoons table salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided

Pinch saffron threads (optional)

3/4 cup boiling water

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops, tendons removed

2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest plus 1 tablespoon juice

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine leeks, couscous, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and saffron, if using, in bowl. Microwave, covered and stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in boiling water and wine, then transfer mixture to 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Nestle scallops into couscous mixture and cover dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until couscous is tender, sides of scallops are firm, and centers are opaque, 20 to 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk tarragon, vinegar, mustard, orange zest and juice, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil in bowl.
  4. Drizzle vinaigrette over scallops and serve, passing extra oil separately.

Roasted Cod with Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Serves 4 

Substitutions: Black Sea Bass, Haddock, Hake, or Pollock

3 cups jarred whole baby artichokes packed in water, halved, rinsed, and patted dry

3/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained, 1/4 cup oil reserved, divided

3/4 teaspoon table salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper, divided

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped coarse

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice

4 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless cod fillets, 1 inch thick

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss artichokes with 2 tablespoons tomato oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in bowl, then spread into even layer in 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish. Roast artichokes until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
  2. Remove baking dish from oven and stir in olives, lemon zest, tomatoes, and 1 tablespoon tomato oil. Pat cod dry with paper towels and nestle into vegetables in dish. Brush cod with remaining 1 tablespoon tomato oil and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Roast until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with paring knife and registers 135 degrees, 15 to 18 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle with basil. Serve.

Baked Halibut with Cherry Tomatoes and Chickpeas

Serves 4 

Substitutions: Mahi-Mahi, Red Snapper, Striped Bass, or Swordfish

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed

12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

2 shallots, minced

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice

2 teaspoons ground coriander, divided

2 teaspoons paprika, divided

1 teaspoon table salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless halibut fillets, 1-inch thick

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine chickpeas, tomatoes, shallots, 1 tablespoon oil, broth, garlic, lemon zest and juice, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish.
  2. Pat halibut dry with paper towels. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 1 teaspoon coriander, remaining 1 teaspoon paprika, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cayenne in bowl. Add halibut and gently turn to coat. Nestle halibut into chickpea mixture in dish and bake until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with paring knife and registers 130 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove baking dish from oven, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve.

Click LIFE EXTENSION for the full article and to find out how to get all the fantastic fish recipes.

Here are some great infographics on everything from the best fish to consume to how to cook a variety of fish.

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