Fish is versatile, delicious and has many health benefits. If you’re trying to lose weight, we have seven healthy fish you need to add to your dinner lineup!
How much fish do you eat every week? If you’re like half of all Americans, you most likely fall short of expert recommendations. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association (AHA) suggest two servings of fish per week for better health. According to the AHA, fish is a low-calorie source of high-quality protein that’s the perfect addition to a dieters menu. Lower calories mean larger portions! Some fish is also unique in that it contains important omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to prevent heart disease and boost memory.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that the omega-3 fatty Acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is necessary for a healthy brain and that deficiencies are linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Consistent intake of DHA has been shown to decrease the risk of cognitive decline, while enhancing memory and learning capabilities.
While they’re protecting your brain, they’re also protecting your heart. According to the Mayo Clinic, omega-3’s have been shown to reduce inflammation, cholesterol, blood pressure and the risk of stroke and heart failure. In fact, a Harvard review of more than 20 studies on the heart effects of eating one or two three ounce servings of fatty fish a week found that it reduces your risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percent.
According to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, other conditions where omega-3’s may show some benefit include macular degeneration (an eye disease that can lead to blindness) and rheumatoid arthritis.
So with so many benefits, why do so many people avoid fish? This is often due to to the perception that it has a “fishy” taste. However, there are so many choices, such as trout or halibut, that are very mild tasting! Fresh fish can also be expensive, but frozen fish is usually just as good and less costly. Many people are also worried about contaminants in seafood, such as mercury, but according to the FDA, you can put your mind at rest. In most adults, the benefits of eating fish outweigh any potential risks posed by contaminants. The AHA says that eating a variety of fish can also help to minimize any potential problems caused by environmental pollution. You can also check local advisories about the safety of fish caught in local lakes, rivers and coastal areas.
Please note: Children and pregnant women have to be more careful and should avoid eating fish with the most mercury contamination (e.g., shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish).
If you want to add fish to your weekly menu but aren’t sure where to start, don’t worry! We have many healthy fish and seafood recipes on The Leaf that are perfect for your Nutrisystem program.
Here are seven healthy fish to add to your weight loss menu ASAP:
1. Salmon (wild and farmed)
If you want to get more omega-3s in your diet, salmon’s your fish. Wild salmon has a whopping 1,774 mg per six ounce serving. Farmed salmon has even more, with 4,504 milligrams of these healthy fats. With it’s rich flavor, it’s high in protein and relatively low in calories. According to the United States Deperatment of Agriculture (USDA), three ounces of salmon contains around 145 calories. Cut this down to around two ounces in order to count it as one PowerFuel on the Nutrisystem program.
2. Tuna (albacore and light)
Another omega-3-rich fish is albacore tuna. It contains 733 milligrams of omega-3s per three ounce serving, coming in behind salmon and swordfish. Swordfish is one of the highest in mercury and other pollutants. It’s also over-fished, so tuna is a much better choice. Light tuna has only 228 milligrams of omega-3s, but it’s lower in mercury than albacore. If you’re a tuna lover, you might want to alternate between the two in order reduce your intake of this toxin. According to the USDA, Albacore contains 108 calories per three ounce serving, while light tuna has only 89 calories. Either would be a perfect PowerFuel on your Nutrisystem plan!
Heart-healthy halibut is another great healthy fish! It delivers 740 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids in each 5.6 ounce serving. A three ounce filet has only 77 calories and 15 grams of protein, says the USDA. Try adding it to tacos, or serve it with brown rice and fresh veggies for a tasty Flex Meal.
Your tacos have never been this healthy. This flaky white fleshed fish is perfect for this spicy, savory Nutrisystem fish taco recipe. Get the recipe here >
4. Mackerel (Atlantic and Spanish)
Mackerel has been described as “a handsome and underrated fish” by SeafoodSource. The USDA shares that a three ounce serving of Atlantic mackerel contains about 174 calories per three ounce serving, while Spanish mackerel is a bit lower with only 118 calories per serving. According to Cleveland Clinic, three ounces of mackerel has about 2,500 milligrams of omega-3s. No wonder it is often used in fish-oil supplements!
One eight ounce filet of this mildly flavored, white, flaky fish is only 189 calories according to the USDA! Atlantic cod has been overfished so look for Pacific cod caught in Alaska, the West Coast, or British Columbia, Canada, as recommended by SeafoodWatch.org. Cod contains 284 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids in each 6.3 ounce serving.
Trout comes in many different varieties, including fresh water, salt water, wild-caught and farmed. They’re a great “starter” option if you think you don’t like fish because they have a very mild and nutty flavor, says FishChoice. One 2.2 ounce serving of trout provides 581 mg of omega-3s and only about 117 calories, according to the USDA.
7. Mahi Mahi
If you enjoy healthy fish, you’ll love mahi mahi. Unlike the other fish featured here, it’s not found in cold water. According to SeafoodSource, it’s found in tropical waters, such as those around Hawaii. The term Mahi Mahi is Hawaiian for what’s long been known as dolphinfish. It was renamed because too many people mistook dolphinfish for the beloved marine mammal, dolphins. Its texture, mild taste and “grill-ability” resembles swordfish, but is a better choice due to the high mercury levels found in swordfish as warned by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The USDA states that a four ounce serving is only 99 calories. Though not a cold water fish, it still has 221 milligrams of omega-3s in each 5.6 ounce serving.
Explore the taste of Mahi Mahi’s tropical origin. Check out this Mahi Mahi with Pinapple Mango Salsa >
*All the Omega-3 figures provided are from The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.