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In the News: U.S. Not Feeling as Fishy

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Though experts tell us we should be eating more fish and seafood, we're actually eating less, according to a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Americans are eating about 16.3 pounds of fish and shellfish per capita each year, or about 5 ounces a week, down one percent from 2006.
The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish and seafood a week as part of a heart-healthy diet.

We ate 60 pounds of chicken per capita back in 2005, according to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, a number that's surely rising. And the 4.9 billion pounds of fish and shellfish that Americans consumed last year is dwarfed by how much beef we put away in 2006: 28.1 billion pounds.

Fish has health benefits that are hard to ignore, according to experts. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fish has been shown to reduce abnormal heart rhythms, decrease "bad" cholesterol levels, prevent plaque from building up in arteries and slightly lower blood pressure. In addition, fish is low in saturated fats, relatively low in calories, and quick cooking.

Want to guess who eats more fish and shellfish than Americans (ranked third in overall consumption)? Japan. (China is the No. 1 consumer.) The Japanese also boast the world's longest average lifespan.

So why aren't you eating more fish?

It's expensive.
Fish can be expensive, but there are plenty of affordable seafood options. Canned tuna, salmon or crab are cheaper than their fresh counterparts and easier to prepare. Tinned sardines, anchovies, mackerel (my personal favorite!) and herring are rich in Omega-3's, and a little of these potent fish go a long way. Watch for sales and stock up on frozen seafood. This week, a local grocery store had 12-ounce bags of cod and mahi-mahi for $4.99 in the freezer section, plus tuna and salmon fillets for $6.99 a pound. Remember that a serving of fish (or meat) is just 2-3 ounces, which is about the size of a deck of cards. To feed a family of four, you only need 8-12 ounces.

I don’t like the taste of fish.
Start out with mild white-fleshed fish, such as cod, halibut, pollock, or the wildly popular tilapia. Though lower in Omega-3's than darker, oily fish, white fish is also incredibly low in calories and full of vitamins and minerals. You'll soon discover that white-fleshed fish is the real "chicken of the sea."

It's versatile, neutral in flavor and easy to cook.

Try fish the next time you go out to dinner. Ask your server for recommendations. After a sampling fish away from home a few times, you might feel brave enough to cook it at home.

The first time I tried salmon was at my grandmother's house. She baked some frozen salmon steaks alongside buttered rice and steamed broccoli. Slimy, bland, pale and full of pin bones, the fish was awful. I barely got through the meal. The next time I had salmon was at a Japanese restaurant. I was nervous that I wouldn't like it, but my salmon teriyaki was flavorful, and the fish I had long loathed was actually full of flavor when cooked correctly.

Thank goodness I gave salmon a second chance, because the rich cold water fish is now one of my favorites.

I don't know how to cook it.
If you can broil a chicken breast or steam vegetables, you can cook fish. A few tips:
  • Fish changes color, from translucent to opaque, when it cooks. Shrimp changes from grayish-blue to pink when cooked.
  • Sprinkle fish fillets with your favorite herbs (try rosemary, oregano,dill or tarragon), then place them on top of your vegetables in the steamer. You'll seal in moisture. (Still nervous about cooking fish? Pick up a seafood steamer kit at the grocery store.)
  • Try dredging fish in a bit of cornmeal, then sautéing it in some olive oil.
  • Toss shrimp in with some vegetables for a quick stir-fry. They cook in mere minutes. (As soon as they're pink and the tail curls towards the head, they're done.)
  • When you're broiling thicker cuts of fish, you can see it change color from the top down. If the fish is thinner, you'll see the edges start to crisp. If you're sautéing fish, it will change color from the bottom up.

For plenty of quick, delicious fish recipes, click here.

I'm worried about the safety of eating fish.
It's true. Some fish are safer to eat than others, because of contamination from mercury, PCBs or other heavy metals. If you're worried for any reason about which fish to eat, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Guide.

My favorite fish dish is broiled salmon with a bit of lemon, salt and pepper. Like my Gramma, I serve it with steamed broccoli (dolled up with a bit of lemon juice). For special occasions, I serve nut-crusted fish fillets.

How often do you eat fish? How do you cook it?

Photo: taken at a Tokyo healthy sushi bar, 2006

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LOVE fish!
I've changed the way that I eat it, but I still love fresh fish & chips! Yummy!! Report
I'm working on improving my family's intake of fish.
* I have been making a tuna / salmon salad mix for sandwiches (w/ onion, celery, shredded carrots, & occasional chopped olives). Then we just found salmon meat "burgers" at COSTCO and my kids said they would eat that every night of the week. Yes, it is "expensive" compared to other meats, but I'm thankful they loved it. I fixed mine on top of a massive bed of salad greens, shredded cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, onions, & black beans. A little dressing over the top and it is wonderful! Another source of salmon has been Walmart with a 1# package for $3.99. Each of the pieces inside the pkg. are individually shrink-wrapped for easy serving for whatever number served. Also, I will often choose fish when ordering at a restaurant.

An interesting note: I asked my mom one time..."I don't remember eating fish and seafood when we were growing up." Her answer was that she HATED fish. But at least she NEVER passed the negative on to us! And we did have tuna fish sandwiches for lunch as part of our occasional choice. Report
I don't buy fresh fish for I never like cleaning it or cook it (smells). Anyway, we do eat canned tuna and I normally cook it with Campbell's tomato soup, Philadelphia cream cheese and serve over pasta. Report
Tilapia is a very gentle-tasting fish, mainly because most fish in the store is seafood and tilapia are fresh-water fish. Nevertheless, cooking any fillet of fish is very simple, especially if you have a grill. Take a piece of aluminum foil large enough to completely wrap the fillet, sprinkle about a clove of garlic on the fillet, pour about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice on it, and (if you have one) one slice of lemon. Fold the fish into the foil and grill it for about 15 minutes. Yum! Add Italian seasoning if you prefer. Works on the George Foreman grill also; just cook for half the time. Report
Our family doesn't eat nearly enough fish, and that's why this weekend at Costco I picked up a bag of frozen tilapia loins, and a bag of salmon filets. Tomorrow night we're preparing the Bourbon Salmon recipe we picked up right here at SparkPeople! Report
I eat fish quite a bit, it's always been a favorite of mine. I have a very good halibut recipe you can get off my SparkPage and I also have 3 really good ways to make baked salmon: one features white wine, fresh ginger and scallions; another is a pineapple barbeque and the other is a loaf. I'll post these recipes as I go along. I also enjoy trout, red bass and other fleshy fish dredged in zatarans and fried with a side of baked beans and cheese grits but of course that's a rare treat. Report
I would eat fish and shellfish every day, but my husband is allergic.

We can't eat fish out of the Ohio River because of pollution. That is so sad. Frankly I'm always a little worried when I buy fish because I've never seen it labeled like it's SUPPOSED to be, and when you get it in a restaurant they never seem to know if it's American or imported. Is it safe or not? That's the big question. Report
I'm deathly allergic to fish and I really wonder if I'm supposing to be eating a certain amount of fish a week according to the food and drug administration, what could I possibly replace it with. What other ways can I get my Omega-3 fatty acids? Report
I'm deathly allergic to fish and I really wonder if I'm supposing to be eating a certain amount of fish a week according to the food and drug administration, what could I possibly replace it with. What other ways can I get my Omega-3 fatty acids? Report
I used to hate it now I love fish. Everything in moderation though! We eat it a couple of times a week and we also have tilapia in the freezer which I was hearing isn't all that good for us after all, but if you eat it once in awhile I doubt that it's an issue. Shrimp are bottom feeders too and people in Nordic countries consider it to be a garbage eating, disgusting thing for us to eat, yet we love it here in North America. Report
I love fish, Salmon is our favorite. Spice it up and add lemon and grill. Salmon steaks we get 2 for $6 at our market add rice or salad, great meal. I don't know why everyone is eating Tilapia, it is a bottom feeding fish and is similiar to a Carp. No thank you, I don't care how you prepare it! Report
Yuck! I hate the look and smell of ANY seafood! Report
I read an article in the past couple of weeks (I don't remember where) that said tilapia was one of the worst fish you could possible eat. Although it was cheap, it was the equivalent of eating bottom feeding garbage sucker for all the nutritional value. Plus, it was so high in Omega 6 that it was bad for you. Report
I really enjoy some types of fish but the price of fresh fish is outrageous! I like canned fish ok but by no means could I eat it everyday. Sushi, on the other hand, I could never tire of! Report
Never ..I know bad right. Even the smell of a Tuna sandwich makes me gag. :0( Report
I LOVE fish but at the outrageous prices per pound it is no wonder peopel don't eat more. Report
I LOVE SEAFOOD! I grew up on the Gulf Coast so we ate seafood every Friday. Now I'm living in Japan and I'm kinda nervous about purchasing fish around the local area...mainly because I'm not familiar with the different kind out in the Pacific. :o( Report
i love fish Report
I love fish. Report
I love fish. Report
I have a delicious way to cook fish and it's low fat too. I spray my pan with non stick butter spray put in the fish and let it cook for a few minutes. Then I flip it over, cover it with salsa, put the cover on and let it cook for a few minutes more til fish is done. Not bland or boring! Easy and tasty! Report
I buy fish at Walmart - very inexpensive. I cook it with a likttle olive oil and sprinkle with Lemon Pepper. Only takes a couple of minutes - everyone loves it.
Fish was always just okay until my husband began preparing it. I really wouldn't even eat it out. Now we eat it at least twice a week. More often than not, it's orange roughy from Sam's Club. Sometimes it will be trout that he catches. We fish at least once a week together, but don't frequently eat what we catch. I believe that I fell in love with eating fish recently because of the way he prepares it. It is always sauteed in extra virgin olive oil. He coats the fillet in Progresso crumbs with Cabela's beer and garlic seasoning. It tastes heavenly! Report
I love fish. Any kind. I do use fish oil capsules, but nothing beats the real thing. I do stay away from farm raised Tilapia now as the latest is it does more harm than good. Do our nutrition experts have more on that. I live near the ocean, so it is a good thing I do like fish. Report
Thanks for this! I love fish but i recently moved into my own place and was scared of A) cooking it and B) affording it. I made dishes with canned tuna but not i have more stuff to try. Can't wait! Report
Thanks! These are some things I didn't know about fish. I love fish. Hubby loves it and it's growing on the children. Report
Our family tries to eat fish at least twice a week. Of course, the news that mercury in fish products does get worrisome. Just make the healthy choices! Report
MMMMMMMMmmmm fish, fish is good. A great source of so much, including protein which is the #1 thing people who had WLS need. So I lover to try new recipes for this and tilapia is my favorite. Report
My husband and I love fish. He likes more kinds than I do. I prefer cod and shrimp. He likes both of those, but also loves salmon so I usually will buy a pc of that or something else for him. I don't buy it as often as I should mostly because of all the warnings about mercury and stuff. Report
Wow fish favourite dish and its a regular item for my family all 7 days. Report
I love most fish and try to eat it often. I find all of the warnings confusing to keep track of and frankly think it has had a subliminal effect on many consumers.
What I would like to know is if the risks outweigh the benefits or the benefits outweigh the risks. Report
I LOOOOOVE fish, and so does my 5-yr-old daughter and my husband. We have it in one form or another at least 2-3 times a week. Salmon is our favorite and I make a mean salmon pattie with canned salmon that i'm going to add to the sprecipes one of these days. Report
Personally I do not eat fish and have no intention of starting. I personal have more problems with fish than the look. I struggled the smell and the taste. Report
Well i cann't say i love fish , but my sweet mother cares that we eat every week , she even cuts them down to small peices so i won't see how it looks like ( i dont like the shape of fish !)

I'll try to eat more now that i discovered it has more Omega-3 !
I have always enjoyed fish. I grew up not too far from Lake Erie, and my mother used to buy fish directly from one of the fishermen who had a fish market in our town. My current favorite is Gortons frozen salmon filets. I can eat both of the 2 filets that come in a package, and just share a little of them with my cats as a treat. Report
I would love to have more fish in our diets but, find that my partner hates it. My daughter and I both love it.. I have tried to introduce it in different forms and she always responds with the same "if I have to" face.... perhaps it's time for my partner to make a sandwich instead. Report
I love fish, any and all that live in the water. Cat, perch, shellfish (lobster the best), mako, mahi, salmon.... If my husband would let me, the only meats in my house would be fish or chicken. I once worked for Red Lobster for 4 years, just so I could have fish every single day. A bowl of mushroom soup (now discontinued), a side salad with sun-dried tomato vinegarette (also discontinued) and a small portion of the broiled chef's special was all I ever needed. Funny thing was, even eating "out" every day, I still didn't gain weight. Report
I really try to eat more fish but I hate fish! The only way I like it is fried or smothered in butter, not a very healthy choice. The only way I have found to get fish in our diet is the Tuna Helper, and thatís what Iím making for dinner tonight! Report
I love most fish. Since I live nowhere near the ocean and the purportedly 'fresh fish' in the supermarket isn't always to my liking, I substitute with canned fish- tuna, pink salmon, sardines- at least 2 days a week. One of my favourite breakfasts is sardines on whole wheat crackers. Report
I love fish and try and have it twice a week... Report
I do not like any fish -want fish- want cook it- want eat it - like a child NO NO FISH!! Report
I'm not crazy about fish either - I think because I hate cooking it - the smell. Well, I found a brand of frozen fish, single servings by Aqua Star that is incredible. It comes in small packets with recipe suggestions. Varieties include tilapia, salmon, sole, cod, halibut, almost every reasonably priced ocean fish. And it isn't expensive. My favorites are sole and salmon baked in foil. For a single person or a couple, you can't beat it. Report
We love fish and get more than the recommended minimum each week. The only worries we have are getting fish without mecury or other contaminents. Report
I'm just not a fish eater -- never have been. I take Flaxseed oil caplets because I don't want to take Fish Oil caplets.

I think it's the fear of mercury or contaminated waters.

Now and then I'll Captain D's or Long John's. The way I like fish is usually the more unhealthily prepared so it's probably best that I don't eat it often. Report
I adore salmon and different white fish, but my husband's idea of eating fish is something battered and deep-fried, so I don't prepare a lot of fish. And I do try to stock up when it's on special...that just doesn't seem to happen very often! Report
I love fish, and I eat heaps more now that I live in Australia. Sushi/sashimi is my absolute favorite meal though, and now I can hardly stand to eat fish cooked. I've even learned to make my own sushi, as long as I can find fresh sashimi grade fish from the fish monger. I only cook the less fresh stuff like you'd find in the super market. I love salmon and tuna, but I think yellowtail kingfish is my absolute favorite. Report
In another Spark article I read about how catfish and talapia were dangerously high in Omega-6 fatty acids that are not good for you. So I have since stopped eating talapia. So now it IS ok? Which is it? I would love to know since talapia is good and cheap. I would like to start eating it again. Report
I absolutely love fish now. I can cook up a salmon dinner in 10 minutes. Steamed asparagus, rice in the rice cooker (OK that takes 30), and salmon. I take salmon filets and put them on a bed of aluminum foil, spray with olive oil, place on top sliced onion, and maybe a few slice carrots. Seal the foil and bake in the oven for 10 mins at 350. My kids love this meal and always want seconds. The recipe I use calls for a slice of orange or lemon and I can include this but my kids prefer it without it. Another wonderful way to cook fish is poaching. 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup white wine, sliced onions, thyme or dill and cover and simmer with fish for 10 minutes or so.

I crave these dishes like I crave chocolate. It drives my husband mad sometimes because I can't get enough of fish. Alton Brown has a microwave recipe for steaming salmon in parchment paper for 5 minutes. I haven't tried this yet.

I've also cooked sea bass in teriyaki sauce but not as much a favorite because I make the teriyaki sauce and that add 5 extra minutes to prep. When I'm in a fish mood I want it NOW!! Report
Tilapia, tuna, shrimp is what I choose, but don't have enough of it. I'll have to try and add more and try different recipes. Report
Since moving to Alaska a couple of years ago, I eat fish a LOT more. Salmon is still growing on me, but it must be fresh and preferably only caught hours before cooking. I love halibut though. My favorite way to eat halibut is with my Mexican Halibut recipe (on SparkRecipes - how's that for a plug?). When we have bonfires or go hiking, we make foil packets of salmon and veggies and throw them on top of a fire. It's great. Report
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