When it comes to adding protein to our plates, don’t forget seafood! October is Seafood Month and reminds us of the many delicious and nutritious seafood options.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate, Americans should consume seafood twice each week as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Seafood is an important part of our diets because it is a lean protein and also contains omega-3 fats, B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iodine, and iron.
The serving size for a filet of fish is about the size of a checkbook. An interesting fact about seafood is that it is easier to digest compared meats such as beef, pork, and chicken because seafood has less connective tissue.
Additionally, the omega-3 fats in seafood, especially salmon and tuna, support heart health and brain health. The B vitamins in seafood support a healthy metabolism and nervous system. The vitamin D in seafood promotes bone health as well as many other areas of health that are currently being researched. Zinc allows for healthy cell development as well as supports the immune system. Selenium is an antioxidant which protects our cells from damage and iodine supports healthy thyroid function which plays into metabolism and overall health. Lastly, iron is important in helping carry oxygen around our bodies via the blood.
From steamed scallops and grilled shrimp to pan-fried fish and sushi, seafood can be easily incorporated into many meals. While fish is plentiful on the coast and if you are lucky enough to live near lakes, in the Midwest, our stores have an excellent selection of fresh and frozen seafood. In most cases, canned and frozen options are just as nutritious as fresh. Look for canned seafood in water, not oil. Generally wild caught seafood is slightly more nutritious, but it is better to consume farm-raised than none at all. At our stores, Open Acres seafood is an excellent choice not only nutritionally, but also environmentally. Open Acres participates is the Eternal Oceans Initiative which ensures sustainability, traceability, food safety and social responsibility of seafood.
Even children should regularly consume seafood for better health. Give this recipe for Sloppy Tuna Sandwiches a try for a kid-friendly dinner meal:
Sloppy Tuna Sandwiches
Recipe source: Starkist
- 2 (12 oz.) cans Our Family chunk light tuna in water, drained
- 1⁄2 small onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Our Family canola oil
- 1 can (15.5 oz.) Our Family Sloppy Joe sauce
- 6 Our Family whole grain buns
- Heat oil in large frying pan. Stir in onion and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Stir in Sloppy Joe sauce and heat for 1 – 2 minutes. Add tuna and heat through.
- Place tuna and sauce on a bun and enjoy!
While the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate are appropriate for most Americans, however, there are exceptions such as with fish and shellfish allergies. If allergic to fish and/or shellfish, instead of consuming seafood, you will want to choose other foods that are sources of protein and omega-3 fats such as walnuts, flax, and chia seeds. Dairy is another source of vitamin D and other proteins such as beef contain iron and zinc. If you do not regularly consume seafood, you may want to consider using iodized salt over un-iodized salt. B vitamins and selenium can be found in fortified grains such as breakfast cereal. While fish is not the only way to get these nutrients, fish is one of the best options for the least amount of calories which promotes weight management and overall health.
As you plan your plates, when it comes to protein, be sure to incorporate seafood twice each week for better nutrition.
"This medical and/or nutritional information is not intended to be a substitute for individual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition."
Stephanie Edson - Regional Wellness Specialist
Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.