Most Americans get enough foods from the USDA’s Choose My Plate Protein Foods Group, but many could make healthier and leaner choices. Seafood is an excellent source of lean protein to include in a healthy eating plan. A healthy eating plan gives your body the nutrients it needs every day, while staying within your daily calorie goal. Proteins included in a healthy eating plan include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts.
Seafood is low in saturated fats and sodium and is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that eating two servings of fish per week is associated with lowering risk for heart disease.
Nutritional benefits of fish and shellfish include vitamins A and D. Seafood also provides iodine, selenium, zinc, and potassium. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommendation for protein foods in the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern at the 2,000-calorie level is 5-1/2 ounce-equivalents of protein foods per day. A drained can of tuna is about 3 to 4 ounces and a small trout is about 3 ounces.
Tips & Techniques
The following 10 tips are offered to help you eat more seafood:
- Eat a variety of seafood. Change up your seafood choices to include seafood that are higher in omega-3s and lower in mercury, such as salmon, trout, oysters, herring, and sardines.
- Keep seafood lean and flavorful. Try grilling, broiling roasting or baking, which doesn’t add extra fat.
- Shellfish such as oysters, clams, and mussels all supply healthy omega-3s.
- Keep canned salmon, tuna or sardines on hand. They are quick and easy to use.
- Prior to cooking, if oysters, mussels, and clams don’t clamp shut when you tap them, throw them away. Cook fish to 145°F, until it flakes with a fork.
- Get creative with seafood. Try making salmon patties, shrimp stir-fry, or grilled fish tacos to name a few.
- Try topping a salad with grilled shrimp, scallops or crab.
- Consider adding less expensive seafood to your menu such as whiting, tilapia, canned tuna, and some frozen seafood.
- Serve seafood to children twice a week in portions appropriate for their age and appetite. Omega-3 fats from seafood can help improve nervous system development in infants and children.
- Know your seafood portions. A salmon steak ranges from 4 to 6 ounces.
The following seafood recipes are delicious, MyPlate savvy and easy to serve anytime.
Blackened Tuna Patties
Courtesy of Iowa State University Extension
- Stir tuna, onion, vegetables, dressing, and garlic powder in a bowl. Mix in the beaten egg.
- Stir the bread crumbs into the mixture. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes.
- Wash hands. Form the mixture into 4 patties. Each patty should be about 1/3” thick and 3” wide.
- Heat a skillet to medium. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray when it is hot. Cook the patties for 2-3 minutes. Turn the patties over and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Cook until patties are browned and 145°F.
- Substitute 1 tablespoon of hot chili sauce for 1 tablespoon of the salad dressing if you want a spicy patty.
- Make your own bread crumbs. One and a half slices of bread make about 1/3 cup of crumbs. 1.) Preheat oven to 300°F. 2.) Place 1-1/2 slices of bread on a cookie sheet. Bake the bread in the oven until it dries and crumbles easily. 3.) Place the bread slices in a plastic bag. Seal the bag and crush the bread. 4.) Store leftover bread crumbs in an airtight container in the freezer.
Nutrition Facts (per patty): Calories: 120, Fat: 3.5g, Carbohydrates: 10g, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 11g, Sodium: 360mg. Serves 4.
Pan Fried Tilapia with Orange Sauce
Courtesy of Iowa State University Extension
- Defrost and pat tilapia dry with a paper towel.
- Put flour, garlic powder, pepper, and salt in a plastic bag. Add fillets one at a time and shake to coat.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot.
- Add fillets to skillet and fry until golden brown on one side (about 2 minutes). Turn fish over, sprinkle with marjoram or Italian seasoning, and finish browning. Heat fish to at least 145°F.
- Heat orange for 10 seconds in microwave. Cut in half. Squeeze half the juice and pulp from the orange on the fish. Use the other half for garnish.
- Place fish on a platter. Scrape the pan juices on top of the fish to serve.
- Frozen fillets are about 1/4” thick. Thicker fillets would need to cook longer.
- Substitute other firm white fish like domestic mahi-mahi or halibut.
Nutrition Facts (per fillet): Calories: 170, Fat: 7g, Carbohydrates: 9g, Fiber: 1g, Protein: 18g, Sodium: 190mg, Cholesterol: 45mg. Serves 4.
For additional healthy, quick seafood recipes, check out Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Baked Tilapia, Hot Alaska Salmon Melts, or Avocado Tuna Salad Sandwich. Eat Right Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics offers a Fish Tacos with Corn Salsa recipe.
- Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. SpendSmart, EatSmart. Blackened Tuna Patties. 2015.
- Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. SpendSmart, EatSmart. Pan Fried Tilapia with Orange Sauce. 2015.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Choose My Plate. Eat Seafood Twice a Week. 2011.