Thursday, October 27, 2016

By Sarah Barnes, MS, RD/LD, Community Dietitian

October is the perfect time to discuss the amazing benefits and many seafood options available as we mark National Seafood Month. While it is recommended by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans to consume seafood at least two times per week, only 10 percent of us actually follow this recommendation.

Seafood can easily be incorporated as a main dish or even in a side dish or as an appetizer. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Oklahoma and seafood is a great source of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids EPA + DHA which promote a healthy heart and help decrease inflammation in the body. In fact, consuming seafood two to three times per week reduces the risk of death from any health-related cause by 17 percent. Newer research also shows that consuming seafood is good for your brain, including baby brain development, and eye health.

One reason many people decide not to eat seafood is the misconception that it is too expensive. If fitting seafood into your budget is a concern for you, there are a few suggestions you could incorporate to cut down on costs.

Try frozen, canned, or pouched options which are often more cost-effective and they are just as healthy. This could also reduce food waste. Many times you can find frozen options that include single portion servings. Canned and pouched are also great options that not only reduce costs but offers a more convenient option for on-the-go meals.

• Buy the whole fish. Fish that has not been processed will save money and expand your usage for the product. You can use the trimmings of the fish for chowders and to make fish broth which many times is lower in sodium than store-bought options.

• Make a seafood side dish instead of a main course meal. This will help reduce the amount of seafood needed and can give you the chance to try something new.

Another reason people may avoid seafood is because it might seem hard to prepare and certainly many don’t know what to do with it. If that’s you, there’s help you need to know about. The national non-profit, Seafood Nutrition Partnership, is a great resource for fabulous recipes and information and during the month of October, SNP’s OKC coalition is hosting and participating in a series of community events to educate Oklahomans about the benefits and to give folks ideas to give seafood a try.

The main call to action is for Oklahomans to take the Healthy Heart Pledge, so take advantage of the healthy benefits of eating seafood twice a week today by taking the Healthy Heart Pledge at seafoodnutrition.org.