Fish & Health

Eating fish and shellfish at least twice a week contributes greatly to your health. It's as simple as that. Whether it's the zinc in shellfish, the omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish such as salmon, or the lower fat profile of many other fish, it's apparent that eating fish is essential to a healthy lifestyle.

You feel good when you eat fish because it's so easy to digest. It contains a smaller amount of connective tissue than meat and short, rather than long, fibers. The connective tissue of fish breaks down at a relatively low temperature, becoming flaky and easily digested. In addition, fish has little fat. Haddock, for example, has less than 1 percent fat. Fish fat is mainly polyunsaturated and monounsaturated. (Saturated fats, such as those found in meat, cause the cholesterol levels in blood to rise.)

But the big reason to eat fish is their high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids. Your body can't make omega-3. You can only obtain it from food, such as fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and some forms of soy. Consider the list of ailments that omega-3 is reputed to help: autoimmune problems, such as lupus an rheumatoid arthritis; heart disease; high blood pressure; blood clots; and breast cancer. Researchers are constantly coming up with new possibilities that link a fish (and vegetable) diet to better health.

From the "Legal Sea Foods Cookbook" by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer, illustrated by Edward Koren.

Next →