If you don’t already eat fish at least twice a week, as advised by the American Heart Association, here are just a few reasons to do so. Fish is the best food source of two omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexenoic acid (DHA)—that have been linked to numerous health benefits. Fish is also a rich source of protein and various vitamins, minerals, and other healthful fats. People who eat fish tend to live longer and have lower cardiovascular risk and possibly better brain health than those who don't eat it. And fish cooks quickly, making for fast and easy meals. Here are seven creative ways to work more fish into your diet.
This salad can be served warm, at room temperature, or chilled—the last option an especially nice one for summer. If you can’t find the lemongrass called for in the recipe, you can use lemon zest instead. Snow peas and corn add additional color plus vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. This is one of several recipes we’ve included that use salmon, since it’s not only among America’s most popular fish but essentially the granddaddy of seafood-derived omega-3 fats.
All species of tuna are good sources of high-quality protein and beneficial omega-3s; tuna also provides B vitamins and the mineral selenium. Here it’s combined with steamed asparagus, potatoes, and white beans for a satisfying, healthful entrée salad. Note that because of lingering concerns about mercury, women who are pregnant or might become pregnant are advised to limit their consumption of most varieties of tuna, as well as of other fish that can be high in mercury.
This recipe uses four simple ingredients you may already have at home—ketchup, all-fruit spread, vinegar, and soy sauce—to create a delicious, fresh barbecue sauce that’s free of preservatives and lower in sodium than many store-bought sauces. The accompanying bean-based salad adds additional nutrients plus some dietary fiber. To further cut the sodium in this recipe, use ¼ teaspoon of salt instead of ½.
Not only are these burgers a great source of protein and omega-3s, but since they’re made with canned salmon, they’re rich in another nutrient you might not expect: calcium. That’s because when salmon is processed for canning, its bones become softened and edible, and thus a source of dietary calcium. You can serve these burgers simply on whole-grain rolls with tomato slices and lettuce, or fancy them up with a topping of marmalade, salsa, or corn relish.
If you’re in a time crunch, you’ll relish this dish’s simple preparation; it needs only six minutes in the microwave. More good news: You can use the same preparation for any firm-textured fish, such as snapper, grouper, sea bass, or halibut. The Asian flavor is courtesy of scallions, fresh ginger, garlic, reduced-sodium soy sauce, and a small amount of dark sesame oil.
Cabbage is a sturdy and inexpensive vegetable that's versatile and full of texture. And like other cruciferous vegetables, cabbage is rich in plant compounds that may help protect against disease. Apple juice and a small amount of bacon add additional flavor to the fish—in this case tilapia, but the recipe works equally well with other meaty-textured fish like grouper or red snapper.
If you like options, this recipe infographic is for you. Choose a starch, fish, vegetable, seasoning, and aromatic from each list, and you can create a different meal practically every night of the year. All the fish we’ve included are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low to moderate in mercury. Varying your intake among different types of fish further helps ensure you don’t get too much mercury. For groupings of fish by mercury content, see Mercury in Seafood: Safe Choices.