Experts recommend eating fish for cardiovascular health, but if your only experience with fish so far has been fish sticks or fried fish, you might be wondering how and why to include fish in your strategy for eating well.
In order to lower your cholesterol, aim to eat fish and seafood three to four times a week. (People who absolutely can’t stand fish and those who are allergic to shellfish can substitute other lean forms of protein.)
You don’t have to get fancy; tuna — even canned — is perfectly fine. In fact, in one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, people who ate 8 ounces or more of fish per week — mostly from canned tuna — lowered their risk of a having a fatal heart attack by 40 percent over those who didn’t eat fish regularly. But buy your tuna packed in water; when you drain oil-packed tuna, you also drain as much as one-quarter of the omega-3 fatty acids; draining water-packed tuna removes just 3 percent.
And don’t worry about the cholesterol in shellfish. When 18 men with normal cholesterol levels replaced the animal protein in their diet with protein from shellfish (oysters, clams, crabs, and mussels), their LDL (low-density lipoprotein)/HDL (high-density lipoprotein) ratios either dropped or remained the same, and their VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein), triglycerides, and total cholesterol dropped.
Easy Ways to Get Your Fill
Can it. Canned tuna is terrific, but there are also canned salmon and sardines to consider. Sardines provide calcium from the easily digestible bones they include. Mix sardines with low-fat mayonnaise and spread on whole wheat crackers for a great snack or light lunch.
Get fresh. The flesh of fish should spring back when pressed, its surface should glisten, and it shouldn’t smell fishy. Frozen is generally a good bet, since it’s often flash-frozen on docks or on the fishing boats themselves.
For more heart-healthy food tips, visit BlackDoctor.org.
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