Nutritious Fish: Mercury Free and Sustainable

The American Heart Association and the 2010 USDA Health Guidelines recommend eating fish at least twice a week.  Many other health experts tout the health benefits of a diet high in seafood as well.  Yet we also hear reports from the scientific community of mercury and PCBs contaminating fish, as well as the use of hormones and antibiotics in some farmed fish.  To make matters worse, poor and non-sustainable fishing practices are hurting us and our environment.

A species of sea bass called barramundi, already appreciated in Australia and Southeast Asia, is now available to us in the USA in the frozen section of our supermarkets.  Farmed in Western Massachusetts on the banks of the Connecticut River, Australis Aquaculture is raising barramundi using smart aquaculture practices, such as conserving water and using sustainable feed while avoiding pollution, preventing disease and escapes, and recycling fish waste.  Hormones and colorants are never used, and because their unique diet  is fully traceable, every bite of their barramundi is free of mercury and other contaminants.

What’s even better, this white fish has a very mild buttery flavor with no fishy taste or lingering odor, and it contains levels of omega-3 fatty acids similar to those found in salmon – a whopping 650 mg per each 4 oz. serving.  Also, this fish contains the ideal ratio of omega -6 to omega-3 fatty acids, (a 1:1 ratio compared to tilapia, which has a ratio of 11:1).

Barramundi is low in calories, saturated fat and sodium, while at the same time  rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.  With just 90 calories per 4 oz. portion (half the calories of salmon), only 2 g of fat, 40 mg of sodium, and a healthy 23 g of lean protein, barramundi is just is the superfood to help us stay trim and healthy.

In addition, eating fish high in omega-3s has been widely documented as being beneficial for heart health.  These fatty acids reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as protect against heart attack and sudden death.  They also reduce blood pressure, decrease triglyceride levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.  Other scientific studies show potential benefits from possible reduced incidence of depression, Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline.  Omega-3s may help reduce the severity of arthritis and other inflammatory autoimmune diseases, as well as improve reproductive and eye health.

Contaminant-free and loaded with heart-and-brain-healthy omega-3s, barramundi is a top superfood.  Purchasing Austrailis barramundi promotes environmentally sustainable fish farming.  Go to TheBetterFish.com to find out where to buy Australis Barramundi in your area, as well as for recipe ideas.  Several supermarket chains such as Safeway and Whole Foods sell it.  Select Costco stores also carry barramundi;  if enough people in your area request it, your Costco may agree to carry it.

Take March’s (2011) Healthy Challenge and eat more fish.  Start simple; fish is the one meat that actually cooks well in the microwave for a super-speedy meal.  It cooks relatively fast on the stove top and in the oven as well.  Check out Australis’ website, try their recipes and let us know which ones you like best.  I’ll post my favorite fish recipes throughout the month.