You’ve probably heard a lot about the importance of omega-3s – because this fatty acid is the key to everything – from good skin and strong brain and eye health to a better overall mood! With seafood, getting your omega-3’s is as easy as 1-2-3.
What are omega-3s?
Because our bodies on their own cannot make omega-3s, it is essential we get these healthy fatty acids from our food. Health professionals recommend we take in anywhere from 250 to 1,000 mg of the omega-3s EPA and DHA per day. Unfortunately, the current average intake by Americans is only about 90 mg/day. In order to meet the recommended U.S. Dietary Guidelines, people are encouraged to eat at least two servings of seafood each week, which will help build up their omega-3 levels.
How do omega-3s benefit me?
Omega-3s provide us with a whole laundry list of health benefits. Here are some of the key advantages.
- Promoting Brain Health – Seafood provides docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of omega-3 that is essential for brain development and function, since it helps neurons trigger and cells regenerate. DHA is important for the brain—from prenatal development to the aging brain. Since our bodies do not make omega-3s, it is critical that pregnant women, breastfeeding moms and young children get DHA from fish in their diets regularly, for optimal brain and eye development in babies and youngsters. Also, studies have shown that omega-3s may be helpful weapons in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Fighting Depression – Omega-3s can have mood-boosting effects on the brain that, in turn, can help ease symptoms of depression. Research has shown that the fatty acids found in seafood, particularly EPA, can help combat depression and benefit those with mood disorders. This also applies to post-partum depression. Studies have shown that a diet rich in omega-3s can help reduce the risk of baby blues.
- Reducing Risk of Premature Birth – Premature birth is a critical global health issue, with an estimated 15 million babies born too early each year. Studies have shown that when pregnant women increase their daily intake of omega-3s, it can help lower the risk of having a baby prematurely by as much as 11%. Adding EPA and DHA to the diet of a pregnant woman also can have a positive effect on the visual and cognitive development of the baby.
- Supporting Eye Health – Omega-3s may help reduce the risk of developing problems with vision (such as macular degeneration) as we age. Foods containing DHA, like seafood, help support our eyes’ retinal development and our overall eye health.
- Enhancing Skin – The omega-3 fatty acid EPA may help promote the skin’s oil production, as well as skin hydration. Eating the recommended 2-3 servings of seafood each week can help cell membranes hold water, which results in softer and smoother skin.
Looking for a recipe that embraces all of the amazing health benefits we just talked about? Try cooking up salmon, one of the most nutrient-dense foods that packs a boatload of heart-healthy omega-3s. These quick and easy Grilled Salmon Skewers should do the trick!
Recipe Source: Dish on Fish.
Grilled Salmon Skewers
Servings: 2 each for 2 people
For the skewers:
- 3/4 lb. salmon, cut into 1-inch squares
- 1 large lemon, thinly sliced
- 8 (10-inch) bamboo skewers (will use two skewers per serving, with two servings per person)
For the marinade:
- 1 Tbsp. parsley, freshly chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, pressed
- 1/4 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Pinch of black pepper
- 1 Tbsp. light olive oil (not extra virgin; pick something with a higher smoke point)
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- Prep: Soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 1 hour to keep them from catching fire. Preheat grill to medium heat (about 375˚ F).
- In a medium bowl, stir together all of the marinade ingredients.
- Double skewer the salmon and lemon slices, folding them in half and spearing them onto two skewers one at a time. (The double skewer aids in turning the salmon kebobs on the grill.) Brush both sides of skewered salmon with the marinade.
- Oil the grates on the grill, then carefully place salmon skewers onto the hot grill. Grill skewers for 3-4 minutes per side or until salmon is cooked through and opaque.