An old bumper sticker often seen in Coastal communities read “Eat fish, Live longer.” It was found mostly on the rusty rear bumpers of commercial and sport fishermen’s pickups.
It was a short message, but sound advice. Eating seafood is good for you, and it tastes great, too.
According to an October 2011 article in www.sunstar.com, world studies have found that people who eat fish a couple times a week reduce their chances of a fatal heart attack by 36 percent. Research also has found that people who regularly eat fish are less likely to have asthma and milder, if any, symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Additionally, an online article published by AARP in November 2011 said eating baked or broiled fish may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Fish is an excellent source of lean protein and is very low in artery-clogging saturated fats,” said Capt. Jill Fowler, a registered dietician and chief of Nutrition Care at Winn Army Community Hospital. “Fish is unique because it is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain and vision development.”
Fish, particularly Atlantic salmon and tuna, are the best sources for omega-3s and omega-6s. Pollock and cod, the fish most often used to make fish sticks, are good sources, too. Flounder and catfish also are good sources, but there are warnings about tilapia, most of which are farm-raised, that not caught in the wild. According to a May 2011 article on NewYorkTimes.com, farm-raised tilapia are fed a diet of corn and soy, which tend to lower their omega-3s and raise their omega-6s. Environmentalists also are concerned about pollution in natural freshwater lakes where tilapia are bred in tremendous numbers in large cages. Fish waste becomes a problem for the farmed fish and the lake.
Although the AARP article suggests that frying fish can change the chemical composition of omega-3 fatty acids, other articles say the reduction in benefits due to frying still are preferable to no fish at all. The same is true for the risk of mercury in fish.
Fowler suggests limiting consumption of fish known to have high mercury levels, including swordfish and king mackerel. Small children and women who are pregnant or nursing should avoid these fish, but not give up eating fish altogether.
I used to think broiled, baked, grilled or pan-seared fish were about as tasty as hay stubble. Then I discovered Tommy Bahama’s macadamia nut-encrusted snapper. Locally, I found Darien restaurant Skipper’s has excellent blackened mahi-mahi, shrimp and well-seasoned, broiled scallops.
On the other hand, another Darien restaurant, B & J’s, has the world’s best lightly breaded and deep-fried wild Georgia shrimp. So even though I’ve learned to sometimes set aside generations of family fish fries, I still prefer my shrimp the old fashioned, less healthy way — fried.
Shrimp are good for you, by the way. Although the oils found in shrimp have been found to slightly raise LDL, or “bad cholesterol,” it greatly increases HDL, or “good cholesterol.”
Some of the local fish I grew up enjoying don’t lend themselves to any other method than frying, including freshwater panfish and pickerel, as well as saltwater delicacies like spots, croakers, speckled trout and mullet.
Oh, mullet are sometimes found to have roe in them. I prefer to cook and eat mullet roe while they’re fresh, the same way I prefer my mullet. This poor-man’s caviar can be prepared in a skillet with just a little cooking oil, like the way you cook smoked sausage. Salt and pepper each roe and give it a light dusting of flour, then cook to a golden brown. Mullet roe is best served with or in a bowl of cheese grits.