| Indian River County Extension Service
1028 20th Pl, Suite D
Vero Beach, FL 32960
Judith A. Wakefield
Indian River County Extension Service
Why It's Good To Eat More Fish
We often see recommendations to eat more fish and poultry and less beef and pork. Why is this? Fish and poultry have a lower saturated fat content than beef and pork and the fat in fish and poultry are not as likely to raise cholesterol levels as that in heavier meats.
Fish has helpful advantages over poultry. The fat in fish is polyunsaturated and eating fish is one of the best ways to get Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids were discovered when they were studying why the Eskimos as Greenland almost never had heart disease but other populations. Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish. Omega 3 fatty acids discourage many processes involved in heart disease. They make blood clotting more difficult thereby preventing the attack itself. They change how the walls of the blood vessels interact with different cells in the blood. They relax our arteries, help keep them from becoming clogged and improve blood circulation in the heart. Omega 3s can change the chemistry in the heart improving heartbeat, blood flow, and chemical reactions in the blood vessels. Eating more fish has also been found to improve symptoms of certain
inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
It is recommended that we eat fish at least twice a week in order to get our Omega 3's.
Whether you are from "up north" and select the cold water fish that you are used to, or purchase one of the many Florida fish, all fish have some Omega 3 fatty acid content. Finfish that contain the most are the naturally-fat fish (those that swim close to the surface of the water) like salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel and whitefish. Pompano, rainbow trout, striped bass and swordfish are common fish that contain moderate amounts of the Omega 3's (.5 to .9 grams per serving). Some examples of those that contain less, but still beneficial amounts of omega 3's, are flounder, grouper, haddock, mahi mahi, cod, orange roughy, sea bass, snapper and whiting. Shellfish contain beneficial (but not large) amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
When buying fish go to reputable commercial sources. Use your nose. Fresh fish smell like the sea, but they have no strong odor. Strong fishy odors usually indicate spoilage.
If buying fresh whole fish, look for bright, clear, bulging eyes. Cloudy, sunken, discolored, or slime-covered eyes often signal fish that is beginning to spoil. The gills should be red in color and free from slime. The skin should be shiny and with color that has not faded.
When buying steaks or fillets, look for moist flesh that still has a translucent sheen. Dried out fish are "over-the-hill".
Fresh fish should be refrigerated in the coldest part of the refrigerator as soon as you get it home and used within a day or two.
Fish that has been frozen whole, in the round, or dressed should show signs of glazing - a thin coat of ice on the fish to protect it from freezer burn.
If purchasing packaged frozen fish look for the packaging to be intact. The wrapping should be moisture-vapor proof and there should be little or no air space between the fish and the wrapping. Frozen fish should be defrosted in the refrigerator, not out on the counter because it loses moisture and flavor. Once it is thawed it should be used cooked immediately.
Keep in mind that fish that has been frozen will lose quality (change in texture and taste) if it is thawed and re-frozen.
Frozen fillets and steaks can be cooked without thawing if additional cooking time is allowed. If you are going to bread or stuff fillets or steaks they should be thawed.
There are many ways to cook fish, frying them just adds fat so use other methods. Fish is done when the flesh is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.