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How to fit fish into your diet

Eating more fish and less meat can improve your health. These tips can help you get started.

When fish replaces fatty meats, such as beef, as the main course, your whole body can benefit. Fish contains less artery-clogging saturated fat and provides omega-3 fatty acids, which can help keep arteries healthy.

That's part of the reason the American Heart Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend eating at least two servings of fish a week.

If you're not used to eating fish, these tips may help you find a place for it on your plate:

  • Look for good fish recipes, particularly for fatty fish like salmon.
  • To save money, keep an eye out for specials on canned, frozen and fresh fish at the grocery store. Ask the attendant at the fish counter for cooking ideas.
  • Add fish to your diet gradually. Start by replacing one beef or chicken meal a week.
  • Use fish instead of meat or poultry in casseroles, stir-fries, salads, soups, pastas, tacos and burritos.
  • Swap canned salmon, tuna or mackerel for ground beef or turkey in meatloaf or burgers.
  • Grill or broil fish steaks, such as fresh tuna, halibut or salmon. Marinate first to boost flavor.
  • Poach fish in an herb-seasoned broth or lemon juice and water, grill it with barbecue sauce, or stir-fry or steam it with vegetables.
  • For best results, cook fish at high temperatures for a short time. Generally, fish should cook 10 minutes per inch of thickness at 450 degrees. Fish is done when it flakes in the center or reaches 145 degrees in the center.
  • Try flavoring cooked fish with lemon or lime juice, dill, basil, onions, garlic, barbecue sauce or tartar sauce made with nonfat mayonnaise.
  • For lunch, serve a broiled fish sandwich, or make tuna or salmon salad with low-fat mayonnaise.

Note: Pregnant women should use caution when eating fish. Some types of fish contain high levels of mercury, which can harm a developing fetus. If you're pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or nursing an infant, talk to your doctor about how much fish you can safely eat.

Reviewed 5/19/2021

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