Health and nutrition updates consistently dominate the news, making it hard to navigate what’s true, what’s false and what really matters. From the latest “diets” and “must-have” supplements to updated recommendations and breakthrough studies, we’re inundated with information that can be hard to digest.
So, let’s cut through the clutter. Here are my top seven nuggets from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), plus my “Pro Tips” on how to meet the DGA seafood recommendations.
- Focus on “a lifetime of healthy eating.” Make healthy eating a lifestyle to help prevent chronic diseases, like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. According to the DGA, nearly half of all Americans have one or more of these preventable, diet-related chronic diseases, which can be prevented by eating a healthy diet regularly.
Pro Tip: Add a variety of seafood to your weekly meal plan at least twice a week, which studies show greatly reduces your risk of chronic disease.
- Find a “healthy eating pattern” that’s right for YOU. What you eat and drink over time is more important than foods or nutrients eaten in isolation of one another. The DGA highlight a few healthy eating patterns that will help to reduce your risk of developing chronic disease. The best healthy diet for you is the one that you will stick with, so find a healthy eating pattern that works for you.
Pro Tip: An easy way to eat more seafood is to add salmon, shrimp or tuna to a salad when dining out for an omega-3 boost.
- Take small steps. Healthy eating doesn’t have to mean all or nothing. Small steps like adding more healthful foods, like vegetables, fruit, whole grains and seafood, to your diet promote weight loss and help prevent chronic disease. You can eat healthier and still enjoy the foods you love, in a way that fits with your family’s tastes, traditions and budget.
Pro Tip: If your family loves Taco Tuesday, try seafood tacos with a grilled flaky white fish like mahi mahi, tilapia or cod.
- Eat a variety of protein-rich foods. The DGA recommends “shifting” to more nutrient-dense proteins, such as nuts, seeds, beans, soy and seafood. By making seafood your mealtime protein twice a week (or about 8-12 ounces), you will more easily meet your needs for important nutrients, like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, B vitamins and iron.
Pro Tip: Keep a bag of tilapia, salmon or shrimp in the freezer. Seafood is frozen straight out of the water, so it maintains a “just caught” flavor.
- Make simple swaps. Small shifts towards healthier eating can seem more manageable than overhauling your entire diet. According to the DGA, adult men and teenage boys consume more than the recommended protein from eggs, poultry and red meat. Try swapping in seafood for meat and poultry several times a week to help meet seafood recommendations.
Pro Tip: Try switching from a beef burger to a salmon burger this week for more omega-3s and vitamin D and less saturated fat.
- Try the Mediterranean way. The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and seafood. The DGA Mediterranean-style eating pattern includes up to 17 ounces of seafood each week. Studies show eating a diet rich in seafood is associated with a healthier heart and longer life.
Pro Tip: Have you tried grilled octopus yet? It’s popping up on small plate menus across the country.
- Eat MORE seafood if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Eating more seafood supports proper brain development in babies and tots, as well as the health of mom’s heart, thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA found in fish. The DGA recommends that expecting and new moms eat at least 2-3 servings of seafood each week to meet nutrient needs.
Pro Tip: This is a last but definitely not least. As a Mom and RD, I can’t stress enough how important eating more seafood is for pregnant and breastfeeding moms, as well as young children.
And, there’s the dish on fish,
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