It’s no secret that Southerners love seafood, but can seafood fit
into a heart-healthy diet? It sure can!
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and the American Heart Association
recommend adding seafood to your diet as a good source of omega-3 fatty
acids. Consumption of this healthy fat has been linked to a lower risk
of heart disease, depression, stroke, Alzheimer’s and skin cancer.
Seafood also is low in fat and cholesterol and rich in protein, vitamins
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting cholesterol in your diet
to 300 mg per day. Finfish (i.e., salmon and catfish) and shellfish (i.e.,
crawfish and scallops) are both naturally low in cholesterol, contributing
to only 3.4 percent of the cholesterol in the American diet.
Vitamins & Minerals
Seafood is a good source of vitamins, such as A, B-complex and D, as well
as minerals like selenium, iodine, iron and zinc. Even after the seafood
is cooked, more than 85 percent of the vitamins and minerals are retained.
Fats & Fatty Acids
The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that fat be limited to 20-25 percent
of total calories, with less than 10 percent of calories coming from saturated
fats. Saturated fats increase levels of bad cholesterol in the body. Seafood
is naturally low in fat, and the fat it does contain is healthy, polyunsaturated fat.
In 2010, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines lowered the suggested daily intake
of sodium to 1,500 mg per day. Although raw seafood is low in sodium,
the sodium content can increase quickly with preparation. And here in
the South, we do love our seasoning! Also be aware that processed seafood
that is canned, smoked/dried or kippered contains higher levels of sodium.
Some seafood products are even injected with flavor-enhancing agents,
preservatives or marinades that can be high in sodium.
For general information about nutrition, visit the USDA’s website:
www.choosemyplate.gov. Consult a Registered Dietitian for guidelines and recommendations specific
to your personal health condition.
Preparation is Key
With all seafood, preparation is key. Here are some seafood preparation
tips to fit into a heart-healthy diet.
Use in Moderation
|Fat & Fatty Acids
||Grilling, poaching, steaming, baking, broiling & stir-frying
||Breaded and fried/deep fried
||Wine- or vegetable-based sauces
||Egg- or dairy-based sauces
Fish Fillets: Lemon, dill, fennel, cilantro
Shellfish: Basil, chives, oregano, thyme and rosemary
|Marinades or large amounts of smoked fish
4 Guidelines for Safe Seafood
- Shellfish should reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees F.
- Cooked shellfish should turn red and flesh should become pearly, opaque.
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of serving or 1 hour if the environmental
temperature is above 90 degrees F.
- Keep refrigerated leftovers no more than 3 to 4 days and frozen leftovers
no longer than 3 months.
Myth: Crawfish are high in fat and cholesterol.
About 3 ounces of cooked crawfish contains only 116 mg of cholesterol,
which is only a third of the maximum daily amount recommended by the American
Myth: Crawfish with a straight tail after boiling were dead before boiling
and should not be eaten.
Sometimes the pot is overcrowded, and there isn’t enough room for
the crawfish tail to curl. And actually, just because a crawfish has a
curled tail after boiling does not mean it was alive pre-boiling.