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Five Fruits from the Sea

(As published on TheTownDish.com, July 5, 2013)

Ah, sweet summer. The heat is on and so are our taste buds in search of flavorful seafood. You hear about the health benefits of seafood, but which fish should you choose? Five are listed below that give you a combination of the good stuff. But first - what's the good stuff, you ask?

Protein: Seafood has a high amount of protein per serving. Protein makes up the building blocks which repair and maintain a healthy body. A balanced meal of lean protein, fiber-rich fruits and veggies along with unsaturated fats will provide long-lasting energy and keep you feeling fuller longer.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These types of unsaturated fatty acids reduce inflammation throughout the body, reducing damage to blood vessels which may lead to heart disease. Omega-3's are believed to lower blood pressure, boost your immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease.

Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins B6 and B12 are commonly found in fish and help carry oxygen throughout the body. They help process fats and carbohydrates from your diet to regulate blood glucose levels. Seafood rich in vitamin D gives you strong teeth and bones.

These three factors give seafood their claim to health food fame. Some seafood contains higher levels of mercury than others, so it's important to monitor your intake if you're a seafood foodie. Here are five low-mercury choices that boast a healthy profile:

1. Wild-Caught Salmon
This tasty fish is praised for its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is also a good source of vitamins B6 and B12, and one serving provides 100% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D. Try broiling, baking or grilling your salmon to see which way you like it best.

2. Albacore Tuna
Tuna is a source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. This fish provides a variety of vitamins and minerals while still having a low level of mercury. It's hard to get your hands on fresh fish, but guess what? Albacore tuna canned in water is just as nutritious if you can't buy fresh.

3. Flounder
Flounder is a flat fish with a buttery taste. Like the other fish on this list, rainbow trout is full of omega-3's and vitamin B12, keeping your heart healthy. This fish is great for broiling or pan frying.

4. Shrimp
Shrimp are tasty little ingredients if you're looking to sneak some added protein into your dishes. They are low in fat and calories, and while they do contain dietary cholesterol, they are lower in saturated fat than other kinds of protein found in meats. Shrimp are full of iron and vitamin D, too.

5. Oysters and Shellfish
Shellfish used to be thought of as a not-so-healthy catch from the sea. Recent studies now suggest that shellfish, like clams and crabs, are nutritious like their fishy counterparts. Even though shellfish don't provide the same level of omega-3's, they still have a good amount of potassium and protein.

If you're not a regular seafood consumer, try replacing one meal of red meat each week with fish, shrimp or shellfish. The American Heart Association notes that healthy adults who eat fish at least twice a week may be much less likely to develop heart disease. Have a healthy summer by enjoying these fruits from the sea!

Last Updated: 7/8/2013