It’s the season for grilling, but according to the National Fisheries Institute, any season and every season is good for seafood, thanks to both advances in aquaculture (farmed fish) and cold storage capabilities. Since the national government is encouraging all of us to eat more seafood with its “MyPlate“ recommendation to choose seafood at least two times per week, those advances also make putting diet recommendations into practice more doable.
Take “MyPlate” a step further with “The Healthy Eating Plate,” created by nutrition experts at Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School, which guides consumers to the healthiest choices in the major food groups. When it comes to proteins, fish is listed first, with good reason. Fish and seafood offer a wealth of nutrition.
Here is a seafood sampler:
Shrimp – These little sea creatures offer great low-calorie lean protein that’s loaded with the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, a red-orange carotenoid — like lutein and carotene — that also gives salmon its pink color and most likely contributes to the heart health benefits of both. Shrimp also contain a variety of minerals, particularly selenium, and even boast a fair amount of vitamin D, which is imperative for bone health and immune system function.
Salmon – Most everyone knows salmon is one of the best sources of “good” omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for human health, but our body cannot produce them all; therefore they must be consumed through your diet. These essential fatty acids support our cardiovascular and immune systems, neurological development, and overall functioning. Salmon are highest in DHA — one of three omega-3’s, and as with shrimp, salmon also gives us some great minerals and potent antioxidants from the natural rich red-orange color.
Trout and Tilapia – These are two delicious, delicate white fish that also pack in lots of lean protein, vitamins, and minerals for few calories. Their mild flavor makes trout and tilapia an excellent choice for kids meals.
Surf vs. Turf — Regardless of the seafood you choose, it wins out over red meat in the fat department. Seafood is the heart-healthy choice, as it offers more good fat but lower total fat versus red meat, which is the main source of unhealthy saturated fats in the American diet.
Go-To Grill Foods
If that’s not reason enough, swimsuit season gives all of us motivation to focus on healthier plates and to make seafood some of our go-to grill foods for summer.
That’s an important point, because while summer and grilling are an obvious pairing, that doesn’t mean you should load up on burgers, steaks, hot dogs, and other meat. For better health and great flavors, make your summer sizzle with fresh seafood complemented with a combination of fruits, vegetables and herbs straight from the garden.
Here’s a summer challenge: make it a goal to eat seafood in place of red meat and processed meats several times a week in order to boost omega-3 fats in the diet and displace some “bad” saturated fats, as well as lower calories and cancer risks.
At your next outdoor party, serve up seafood ceviche, vegetables, and hummus instead of cheese and crackers or chips and dip as appetizers. For the main event, grill a variety of seafood, including fish and shellfish in place of brats and burgers, and be sure to avoid burning it.
For whatever reason you choose, making summer synonymous with seafood is easier than ever. If you’re not on vacation at the beach surrounded by fresh, local selections, you can still simply enjoy being “in vacation mode” at home and cooking great seafood from local supermarkets. Paired with summer’s fresh produce, you’ll find that going for the surf with no turf makes for some great summer grilling that’s bursting with nutrition and flavor.
Salmon is my top pick for summer cooking, whether indoors or on the grill. Here’s a quick, easy, and delicious way to enjoy sunshine on a plate!