A catch that's worth keepingA few weeks ago, I mentioned that February was National Heart Month and offered some tips and recipes, which focused on the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in our diets. I’m going to do it again today
By: Jeff Tiedeman, Grand Forks Herald
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that February was National Heart Month and offered some tips and recipes, which focused on the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in our diets.
I’m going to do it again today. You see, every 34 seconds, someone in this country dies from heart disease. That’s 2,500 each day.
Of course, exercise is important in combating heart disease. I’m reminded of that every time I go to work out at the Altru’s Fitness Center (formerly the Rehab). I regularly see people such as retired educator Gordon York, former Hansen Ford service manager Roger Sundby and Wilma Smith of Vilandre Fuel & Heating Inc., and all survivors of heart disease.
But what we eat probably plays an even bigger role in preventing the No. 1 killer of men and women in the U.S.
Along with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, foods high in omega-3 fatty acids greatly benefit the hearts of healthy people, and those at high risk of — or who have — cardiovascular disease.
The American Heart Association recommends eating baked or grilled fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times a week. Besides being a good source of protein, it doesn’t have the high saturated fat that many meat products do. Fish such as salmon, lake trout, albacore tuna, sardines, herring and halibut are high in two kinds of omega-3s.
Studies have shown that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help lower triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (the bad one) and increase HDL cholesterol (the good one). They also may act as an anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting. Several other studies promote omega-3s in lowering of blood pressure.
(The AMA also suggests eating tofu and other forms of soybeans, canola, walnut and flaxseed and their oils. They all contain alpha-linolenic acid, which can become omega-3 fatty acid in the body.)
My omega-3 fish of choice is salmon, simply because it lends itself to any number of cooking techniques, including baking, grilling, broiling or sauteing. It also doesn’t take long to cook (30 minutes or less).
And if you’re looking for variety, salmon works well with a number of seasonings and glazes. My favorite method is to bake salmon in a sauce that contains white wine, lemon juice and olive oil and topped with a few chopped shallots and a little minced garlic as well as some dill and parsley. About five minutes before it’s ready to take out of the oven, I sprinkle a little brown sugar on the steaks or fillets. (Sweet maple syrup also works well.)
Freshwater fish also can be a valuable source of omega-3s. For instance, a 3-ounce serving of cooked freshwater bass has about 0.6 grams of omega-3s, while wild rainbow trout has about 0.8 grams.
Lower-fat fish such as northern pike, walleye pike, sunfish and perch have omega-3s as well, but fewer than oilier fish, which brings me to the Lenten fish fries that kick off Friday. (Two I’m familiar with — Sacred Heart and Knights of Columbus — are real bargains.)
While most of the fish at these events are deep-fried — not the healthiest method but certainly among the tastiest — regular readers of my column know that one of my mottos is “all food fit” (in moderation).
And if that’s not enough affirmation, many of these fish fries feature “Alaskan walleye” or pollack, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids than regular walleye.
Can you say pass the tartar sauce?
Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at 780-1136 or toll-free at (800) 477-6572, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.