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Healthy Seafood Buyer’s Guide

Tips for choosing popular fish and seafood at the supermarket.

Do your body good—eat fish! Fish (and all seafood) is an excellent source of lean protein and is healthy for your heart because it contains so little saturated fat—the type of fat associated with heart disease. In addition, some types of fish, particularly cold-water species like salmon, tuna, sardines and trout, are rich in omega-3 fats docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Studies show that these omega-3 fats may reduce the risk of heart disease and may also provide other health benefits, such as helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and boost your mood.

 

Shrimp

Once viewed as a decadent luxury reserved for special occasions, shrimp is now the most consumed seafood in the United States. Although shrimp is high in dietary cholesterol, it has virtually no saturated fat—the nutrient that's most closely linked to high blood cholesterol. Plus, the amount of cholesterol you get in one serving of shrimp (209 mg of cholesterol in 3.5 oz, cooked) falls well below 300 mg, the American Heart Association’s daily recommended limit for dietary cholesterol, for healthy people.

Shopping Tip:
Raw, frozen and cooked shrimp are all sold by the number needed to make one pound—for example, “21-25 count” or “31-40 count”—and by more generic size names, such as “large” or “extra large.” Size names don’t always correspond to the actual “count size.” To be sure you’re getting the size you want, order by the count (or number) per pound.

Best Choices for the Environment:
Both wild-caught and farm-raised shrimp can damage the surrounding ecosystems when not managed properly. Fortunately, it is possible to buy shrimp that have been raised or caught with sound environmental practices. Look for fresh or frozen shrimp certified by an independent agency, such as Wild American Shrimp or Marine Stewardship Council. If you can’t find certified shrimp, choose wild-caught shrimp from North America—it’s more likely to be sustainably caught.

Prep Tips:
Thaw frozen shrimp in a covered bowl in the refrigerator. If you’re in a hurry, place shrimp in a colander under cold running water until thawed.

The “vein” running along a shrimp’s back (technically the dorsal surface, opposite the legs) under a thin layer of flesh is really its digestive tract: use a paring knife to make a slit along the length of the shrimp, then pull it out with the tip of the knife.

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