What’s the latest on crustaceans and cholesterol?
People can be tentative when it comes to eating fish and shellfish. This is due to the fact that there is a lot of talk about whether or not these sea creatures are beneficial to our health. The summer is the perfect season for enjoying fresh seafood, especially at the beach. Fish and shellfish are a lot better for our diets than their reputation portrays.
When discussing the health factors of fish and shellfish a major topic that comes up is cholesterol. Cholesterol is found in the body in two forms; HDL and LDL. LDL is referred to as “bad cholesterol” while HDL is referred to as “good cholesterol”. This is because LDL is the main source of artery-clogging plague, while HDL removes harmful fats from the blood and can help lower the risk of heart disease.
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 8 ounces or more per week of seafood, including fish and shellfish. Shellfish such as shrimp contain high levels of the “good cholesterol”, HDL. Shellfish also have a low-fat content and most of that fat is Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids help to decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure slightly, reduce blood clotting, and decrease stroke and heart failure risk. Shellfish are also a high-quality protein that will supply our bodies with the essential amino acids to maintain our health and help our muscles grow.
Different types of fish and shellfish have different nutritional contents. It is important to be eating different types of fish and shellfish to get a variety of nutrients. Also, some seafood is higher in fat and sodium than others, so you want to make sure you are choosing to eat those less frequently than others. Below are some nutritional facts about common types of seafood.
- Shrimp – low in calories, high in protein, provide nutrients such as selenium, B12, phosphorus and choline
- Salmon – high in Omega-3, higher fat content than other shellfish, provide the body with protein, B vitamins and potassium
- Oysters, clams, mussels – good source of B12, iron, zinc, phosphorus, niacin and selenium
- Crab – higher sodium levels (watch consumption if high blood pressure), high in protein and low in calories
- Lobster – good source of copper, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, B12, low in calories and saturated fat
So, when it comes down to it, fish and shellfish are an essential part of our diet and should be consumed regularly to help increase the amount of “good fat” and “good cholesterol” in our bodies. However, the preparation and cooking of shellfish can affect the nutritional content. When preparing your shellfish this summer, make sure to follow these guidelines:
|How NOT to Prepare Your Seafood||How TO Prepare Your Seafood|
|Fry/sauté in butter or oil||Bake, boil, grill, or poach|
|Serve in creamy sauce||Season with fresh herbs, spices and vegetables|
|Add extra salt when seasoning||Add lemon juice|
Here is one of our favorite recipes for some easy delicious salmon taken from our Pinterest:
Skillet Seared Salmon with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce (www.cookingclassy.com)
- 4 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets (about 1-inch thick)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup natural sour cream
- 2 green onions , end trimmed, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup packed cilantro (mostly leaves, some stem)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 clove garlic , sliced
- Remove salmon fillets from refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature 10 minutes. Meanwhile prepare sauce.
- For the sauce, add sour cream, green onions, cilantro, lime juice, garlic and season with salt to taste (about 1/4 tsp). Process until cilantro has been very finely minced. Set aside at room temperature while preparing salmon.
- In a small bowl whisk together cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, 1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt (depending on how salty you like things) and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Dab both sides of salmon dry with paper towels, season both sides evenly with cumin mixture and lightly rub over salmon. Heat a (heavy) 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and once oil is shimmering add salmon (top side down first. Also leave space between fillets) and cook about 4 minutes, without moving, on the first side until golden brown on bottom then flip and cook salmon on opposite side until salmon has cooked through, about 2 – 3 minutes longer. Serve warm with Creamy Cilantro Lime Sauce.
Sarah Domino, Penn State Intern