Seafood, Shellfish Important for Adults, Kids

Posted April 27th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in The News-Press Column

Fish: A Four-Letter Word for Healthy!

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet, and nowhere is fresh fish easier to find than the coast. Increase your odds for a long and healthy life with a simple, tasty change: add fish to your weekly menus.

Here are some nutrition facts to motivate you. Fish is a lean, low-calorie source of protein and a great source of critical omega-3 fatty acids. These play a crucial role in brain function, as well as growth and development, and may even reduce the risk of heart disease.

But here’s the catch: the body can’t make them. We must go to the source for omega-3s, and in a seafood-centric environment, that’s easy. They come from fish – such as salmon, tuna, and halibut; other seafood, including algae and krill; some plants; and nut oils.

A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to the whole family’s well-being. Just remember, you don’t have to go overboard to reap the benefits. A little bit of “daily catch” goes a long way. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week (especially fatty fish like trout, herring, sardines, tuna and salmon) at least twice a week. I personally recommend consuming no more than one fish meal per week from predatory fish (shark, tuna, swordfish, etc.) and no more than two per week from non-predatory fish (sardines, salmon, shrimp, etc.). Very few palate-challenged people will be overwhelmed by this schedule.

Some of you are thinking ‘I know fish is good for you, but my family doesn’t really like it.’ There are many recipes that you can use which will increase the appeal. Look for salmon stuffed with crab and breadcrumbs, or use a tasty pesto to enhance the flavor (Costco offers one of the best I’ve found, in its refrigerated section) . Add grilled fish to a salad loaded with other items. Throw some shellfish into your marinara. Be creative and research ways that might make your family happy when consuming fish or shellfish. Here are two seafood recipes which will help:

Easy, tasty tuna salad
1can (12 oz) water-packed solid white tuna, drained
1/3 cup Yoplait® Fat Free plain yogurt
1can (4 oz) crushed pineapple, drained; or grapes
1 stalk celery, finely chopped (1/3 cup); or sweet onion
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium bowl, mix tuna, yogurt, pineapple, celery, pecans, mustard, and cinnamon.
1 serving has approximately 180 Calories, Calories from Fat 50; Total Fat 6g (Saturated Fat 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 25mg; Sodium 420mg; Total Carbohydrate 11g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 9g); Protein 22g.

Shrimp tomato sauce over pasta; makes 4 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small bunch scallions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
¾ cup dry white wine or nonalcoholic white wine
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil
12 fresh or frozen and thawed jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
8 ounces spaghetti
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Warm oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic. Cook 10 minutes, or just until scallions begin to turn golden.
2. Add tomatoes, wine, sugar, and 1/2 cup parsley or basil. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 to 25 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened.
3. Add shrimp and return to a summer. Cook 4 to 5 minutes or until shrimp is opaque.
4. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Add sauce and toss to mix.
5. Sprinkle with Parmesan and remaining 1/4 cup parsley or basil.
Approximately 1 serving has about Calories 380, Calories from Fat 60; Total Fat 7g (Saturated Fat 2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 65mg; Sodium 650mg; Total Carbohydrate 59g (Dietary Fiber 6g, Sugars 10g); Protein 19g

Next week, I’ll share some insights about mercury in fish. We’ll sort the truths from the rumors so you can relax at mealtime.

Read my News-Column: Eating well fights heart disease

Posted February 9th, 2010 by Elaine Hastings, RD - Nutrition Expert and filed in health, In The News, Meal Tips, nutrition

Heart disease is the number one killer of Americans. In February, the American Heart Association recognizes American Heart Month as it focuses on raising awareness about the prevention of cardiovascular disease, including good nutrition. Adopting healthy eating habits is one way to reduce your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations from the American Heart Association:

- Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.

- Select fat-free, one percent fat or low-fat dairy products.

- Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet.

- Cut back on foods high in dietary cholesterol. Aim to eat less than 300 mg of cholesterol each day.

- Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars.

- Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. Aim to eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day. Anyone with hypertension, all middle-aged and older adults should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day.

- If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means no more than one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.

- Keep an eye on your portion sizes.

As part of a healthy diet, an adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim for:

- Fruits and vegetables: At least 41/2 cups a day

- Fish (preferably oily fish): At least two 31/2-ounce servings a week

- Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day

- Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day

- Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week

Other nutrition measures:

- Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least four servings a week

- Processed meats: No more than two servings a week

- Saturated fat: Less than 7 percent of total energy intake

Be sure to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods daily. As always, small changes in lifestyle can make a big difference in improving your overall health.

Top Three Foods for 2010

Meal Monday:

Here are my top three recommendations for nutritious foods to include in your in 2010 meal planning:

1. Broccoli: This leafy green vegetable is a good source of Vitamins A and C, antioxidants that protect your body’s cells from damage. Broccoli provides calcium, potassium, folate and fiber and contains phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. An added bonus – broccoli contains no fat, cholesterol or sodium, unless added during cooking.

2. Almonds: These nuts contain nutrients such as riboflavin, magnesium, fiber, iron, calcium and vitamin E, a natural antioxidant. Because almonds are low in saturated fat and high in monounsaturated fat, eating small servings of almonds can help lower cholesterol levels. They are considered a “heart-healthy” source of fat. Almonds also contain vitamin E and phytonutrients, just like broccoli, and may help prevent against cardiovascular disease and even cancer.

3. Apples: Apples have no fat, cholesterol or sodium and contain small amounts of potassium, which may promote heart health. Eating apples can also help you maintain healthy blood pressure levels and a healthy weight. They are a source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber such as pectin actually helps to prevent cholesterol buildup in the lining of blood vessel walls, thus reducing the incident of arteriosclerosis and heart disease. The insoluble fiber provides bulk in the intestinal tract, holding water to cleanse and move food quickly through the digestive system. Don’t skip the skin; almost half of the vitamin C content is just underneath the skin. Eating the skin also increases insoluble fiber content.

Read my latest article in The News-Press: There is plenty of flavor after salt

Sodium you take in depends on choices you make

How can you add flavor without adding sodium?

The American Heart Association has issued dietary guidelines in efforts to warn of the dangers of high salt consumption. The AHA says that consuming less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of salt per day can lower blood pressure, prevent hypertension, help control hypertension, and prevent cardiovascular disease.

For people suffering from heart failure, eating too much sodium causes extra fluid to build up in your body. The increased fluid may cause swelling, shortness of breath or weight gain. Excessive salt intake has also been linked to stomach cancer.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends that Americans consume a minimum of 500 milligrams per day of sodium to maintain good health. Individual needs may vary depending upon genetics and lifestyle. Most Americans have no trouble reaching their minimum requirements. In fact, most Americans consume above the recommended amount required for proper bodily function.

If you have high blood pressure and heart failure, you should limit and monitor your daily sodium intake. People with other health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease may also need to make other diet changes as recommended by a physician.

It is also wise to limit sodium if you have liver problems or kidney disease. While the kidneys may efficiently process excess sodium in healthy people, those with kidney problems often have problems processing sodium, which can result in additional health implications.

Sodium is found in salt and a number of other foods and food products. Seasoning foods without salt during cooking and while eating can help decrease the amount of sodium in your diet.

Some high sodium seasonings and condiments to limit or avoid:
- Alfredo sauce, soup and other packaged sauce mixes.
- Barbecue, taco and steak sauce.
- Dry salad dressing mixes.
- Garlic, onion and celery salt.
- Imitation bacon bits.
- Meat tenderizers and sauces.
- Items with monosodium glutamate. MSG may be found in Chinese food, soy sauce and oyster sauce.
- Mustard, prepared horseradish sauce and ketchup.
- Pickle relish.
- Salt, seasoned salt, kosher salt, and sea salt.
- Soy, Worcestershire and teriyaki sauces. Limit low-sodium varieties because they still contain high amounts of sodium.
- Tartar, fish and cocktail sauce.
Some low-sodium herbs that can be used
- Basil, bay leaf, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, dill weed, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, savory and tarragon.

Some low-sodium herb blends that can be used:
- Chili blend: mix black pepper, chili powder, cilantro, cumin, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and paprika.
- Cole slaw blend: mix celery seed, dill weed, dried onion, sugar and tarragon.
- Italian food blend: mix basil, black pepper, garlic powder, ground red pepper, marjoram, oregano, savory and thyme.
- Onion herb blend: mix basil, black pepper, cumin, dill weed, dried onion flakes and garlic powder.

Some low-sodium spices that can be used:
- Cinnamon, cloves, curry powder, ginger, mace and nutmeg.

Some low-sodium seasonings that can be used:
- Chives, garlic (minced, powdered, or freshly chopped), lemon, onion (dried, powdered, or freshly chopped) and vinegar (such as balsamic, cider, flavored, red wine, or white).

How can I use food labels to choose seasonings that are low in sodium?
Reading food labels is a good way to learn how much sodium they contain. The ingredient list on the food label will tell you if the seasoning or food contains sodium. The food contains sodium if an ingredient has Na (the symbol for sodium), salt, soda or sodium.
Food labels list the amount of sodium in the food in milligrams.

What are some other ways to decrease sodium in my diet?
Fast food and packaged foods are often high in sodium. Buy low-salt or low-sodium foods when possible. Eat homemade or fresh foods and meals to avoid getting too much sodium.
Buy fresh vegetables, frozen vegetables or low-sodium or no salt added canned vegetables. Avoid canned, smoked, or processed poultry, fish, or meats. Limit cured meats, such as ham.

Elaine Hastings is a registered dietitian and owner of Associates in Nutrition Therapy in Fort Myers. Contact her at or