Why is fish oil so important and what’s the deal about omega 3 fatty acids? In a nutshell, they have super anti-inflammatory powers and can reduce pain and swelling, prevent blood from clotting and can reduce harmful fats.
There are two major classes of polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The body has a limited capacity to produce omega 3, so we all need to eat certain foods to boost levels of it. DHA and EPA are originally synthesized by microalgae and when fish consume phytoplankton that consume microalgae, they accumulate the omega 3s in their tissue. DHA and EPA are found primarily in fatty fish. ALA is found in plant sources like flaxseed, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed oil and canola oil. Our bodies can convert ALA to DHA and EPA. Omega 3s decrease inflammation, can lower triglyceride levels, increase HDL levels, improve insulin resistance, improve metabolic syndrome ( belly fat, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high triglycerides and low HDL). Omega 3s can also boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs, can keep lining of the arteries smooth and free of damage that can lead to thick, hard arteries ( atherosclerosis) and helps to reduce plaque in arteries, reducing risk of strokes. By Dr. Hurwitz
Kitchen-Prescription Recipe: Roasted Salmon with Meyer Lemon-Caper Chutney
Meyer lemons are an unusually fragrant lemon, and they melt beautifully into the olive oil base of this chutney. The bold lemon taste offsets the richness of the fish, and the use of the whole lemon imparts even more healthy plant compounds (known as flavonoids) into the final dish. Enjoy, Dr. Weintraub
Roasted salmon with Meyer lemon-caper Chutney
1 pound of center cut salmon filet, skin removed
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
One recipe of Meyer lemon-caper chutney, see below
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Season the salmon liberally with salt and pepper, on both sides. Heat the oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet until shimmering. Place the salmon in the pan, skin side down. Cook, over medium heat , for five minutes, or until the bottom of the salmon is nicely browned. Place the pan in the oven, and roast the salmon for 9 or 10 minutes, or until a paring knife moves through the thickest part of the fish without resistance. Remove the pan from the oven, and slide the salmon on to a serving dish. Top with the chutney, and serve.
Meyer Lemon -Caper Chutney with Capers
Two Meyer lemons, washed and dried, stems and seeds removed
1/2 Cup extra Virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 tablespoons of vinegar packed capers
1 tablespoon of agave syrup
1 tablespoon of chopped rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon of black mustard seeds (optional)
Chop the lemons, peel and flesh, until minced into quarter inch pieces. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Add the minced lemons and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat . Stir in the agave syrup , capers, and rosemary. Season to taste. Serve over the salmon.
K-P Food is Medicine Cooking Tips
Farmed Vs. Wild Caught
One third of the wild fish population is overfished and two -thirds are fully fished which means we are catching and removing fish species faster than fish can reproduce in the wild. Keeping up with growing demand has led to fifty percent of the world’s seafood stock to be farmed.
Farmed fish are raised in aquacultures. Different countries have varying restrictions on hormones used or quality of food given to farm raised fish. Most are produced in the Faroe Islands in the waters off Norway followed by Chile. Farm raised fish are fed antibiotics, corn and grains. They have a milder flavor, are fatty with a tender texture and have very low mercury levels and increased omega 3 levels. They are also fed synthetic carotenoids, an antioxidant added to the feed to give fish a pink color similar to wild caught fish.
Wild caught fish are caught in their natural environment, have lower fat content and lower omega 3, can be exposed to low level toxins like mercury but are less likely to be exposed to antibiotics, pesticides and colorings used in some aquacultures. They are deep red in color.
Mercury occurs naturally in the environment on the earth’s crust. As a result of industrial pollution, mercury is released into the environment and can collect in streams and oceans where it is converted to methylmercury. Coal burning plants comprise the largest human caused source of mercury emissions into the air in the US.
Methylmercury settles in oceans and lakes where it is absorbed or ingested by small organisms and then starts to make its way up the food chain. Some fish have more mercury than others. Albacore tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna and shark, tilefish, swordfish, ahi and bigeye tuna and king mackerel have more mercury than other fish, mostly due to their diet. At high levels, mercury can harm the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs and immune system. To check out what fish is healthy both for you and the environment, look into http://www.nrdc.org, (the natural resources defense council.)
Hidden mercury can also be found in artificial food coloring, in corn sweeteners ( corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup) and in sodium benzoate, a preservative found in soft drinks and cough syrup.