Health Benefits of Tuna and Salmon

tuna sandwichNo doubt about it, tuna and salmon are super foods. Not only are they a great source of lean protein and packed to the gills with nutrients like vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and iron, but they also taste great and can be made into dozens of dishes.

What has nutritionists and scientists really excited about tuna and salmon is the high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids they contain. Omega-3s have lately been associated with all kinds of health benefits from warding off depression and cognitive decline to reducing inflammation and the risk of heart disease. The evidence is so good that the American Heart Association recommends we eat fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- like tuna and salmon -- twice a week.

Getting Your Two-a-Week Fish

Making fresh fish at home is a snap, and it's easy to appeal to any palate. Fresh salmon is especially good for picky eaters because of its mild flavor and sumptuous texture.

raw fishIf it fits into the budget, buy fresh salmon caught in the wild over farmed for more omega-3 fatty acids. Look for bright, firm, orange-pink flesh. The skin should be clean and shiny and should bounce back when pressed gently. Salmon steaks are great for grilling while salmon fillets can be baked or quickly seared. Salmon is tasty with a variety of flavors from lemon butter to a spicy fruit salsa.

Fresh tuna, which is in season from late spring to early fall, is delicious seared quickly on a grill. Raw tuna steaks look a lot like raw beef, and seared tuna has some of the texture and taste of really good beef, too.

Like salmon, fresh tuna works well with a variety of flavors and preparation styles. When choosing fresh tuna, choose a piece that smells ocean-fresh and looks glossy, without a rainbow sheen. It's best to cook and eat tuna on the day you buy it. Sear the tuna quickly over high heat, preferably on a grill, until the flesh changes color and is no longer translucent. Frozen tuna steaks and patties are also sold in many markets. Thaw the steaks in the refrigerator and cook the same day; frozen patties can go straight to the grill.

Canned tuna and salmon are perfect pantry staples for quick week-night meals and an extra boost of omega-3s. Both can be added to pasta dishes, made into patties and breaded and grilled or lightly fried or added to a salad. Tuna and salmon casserole can be a comforting, fun dish to make, and now you know it has health benefits, too! Canned salmon and tuna make for easy lunch-time sandwiches, as well.               

Should I Worry About Mercury?

Tuna, which is a large, ocean-going fish, can accumulate mercury in its flesh. According to the FDA, most people are not affected by the low levels of mercury in most seafood, but sensitive populations like pregnant women and children should limit eating albacore to one serving, or six ounces, per week.

Canned light tuna, and fish like salmon, catfish and sardines, have much lower levels of mercury and children and pregnant women are advised to eat as much as 12 ounces per week. Most people, however, don't need to worry about mercury in fish.

With health benefits for our brains and our hearts, great flavor and a lot of nutrition, tuna and salmon really can't be beat. Include these super foods in your meals twice per week, and enjoy the benefits that omega-3s have to offer!

Enjoy health benefits of tuna and salmon - find tuna or salmon recipes.