• Theresa Gentile

Why You and Your Kids Should Eat More Fish

You know you should be eating more fish, but what about your kids? Is there such a thing as eating too much fish?


With only 100-200 calories per serving, seafood is considered a low-calorie, high-protein food source. Fish also has B vitamins, vitamin D and vitamin A, zinc, selenium, iron and iodine. Seafood is low in total fat and saturated fat. Even the fattiest fish have no more than 15% total fat. Most cuts of fish are also low in cholesterol (a little less than chicken and beef - shellfish is the exception.). And a large portion of that fat – oh, here’s the good part – is that heart-loving’ polyunsaturated, omega-3 fatty acid fat.


Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that your body cannot produce. They are found in all fish, but primarily in fatty fish.


Good sources of #omega-3’s: salmon, trout, sardines, herring, canned mackerel, canned light tuna, and oysters.


Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:


-Helps reduce risk of sudden heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms and stroke. Also lowers blood pressure.

-Maintains healthy brain and vision development during pregnancy

-May decrease risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

-Has anti-inflammatory effects that may decrease the risk of arthritis


Benefits to pregnant women: helps nervous system development of fetus


Ok, so those are the reasons why you SHOULD eat fish…are there reasons why you shouldn’t??


Well, there are contaminants, mercury and water pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls (#PCBs) and dioxins. Although mercury is a naturally occurring metal, it is converted into more dangerous methylmercury by bacteria in water. Methylmercury is found more in larger fish, since those fish eat other fish and live longer. If you eat too much of these fish, it could damage your nervous system. PCB concentrations have decreased in waters, but there are still areas where there is concern.


Those at the most risk?

Women of child bearing age, pregnant women and kids.


Since contaminants can build up in your body over time and it could take up to 5 years to rid your body of these dangerous substances, it’s best to limit your intake of certain fish. Remember, infants and children are more susceptible to these harmful effects because their nervous systems are still developing and contaminants can be passed on to a fetus from mom.


For Kids: Fish is a nutritious food that helps their bodies grow. But, remember their portion size does not look like an adults’.


Generally, allow 1 ounce of fish for every 20 pounds of body weight. So, a 40 pound child, should have 2 ounces of fish.

You can also refer to this chart for guidance on portion size of fish for kids:


Serving size of fish for children


Pregnant women and women of child bearing age: should consume 8-12 ounces (2-3 servings) of fish per week, and of fish that is lower in mercury content.


What Are The Safest and Most Nutritious Fish to Eat?

Use this chart as a guide:




Can you prepare fish in a way that decreases PCBs, dioxins or mercury?


You cannot cook away mercury, but contaminants like PCBs accumulate in the fat of the fish, so remove skin and visible fat before cooking, let fat drip off fish before eating it, and never make sauce/gravies from fat drippings.


Not sure how to cook fish? Check out some healthy way to prepare fish here.


For a great picture of how to cut fat away from fish, see:

https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Food/Fish/ReduceContaminantExposure


How will you add fish to your rotation this week?


References:

https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Food/Fish/HealthyFishGuide

https://www.fda.gov/downloads/food/foodborneillnesscontaminants/metals/ucm537120.pdf

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