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Buying seafood can be a confusing task. How do you know which has the lowest amount of contaminants, the highest amount of nutrients, and is labeled correctly? These are good questions to ask before feeding your family.

Our seafood is either wild-caught or farm-raised. Both methods include strict regulations to keep us healthy, the environment healthy, and the fish populations healthy and thriving. While many people are convinced that wild salmon is healthier and safer than farmed salmon, this is not necessarily the case. Farmed salmon has the same or even higher amounts of omega-3 fatty acids as wild-caught salmon since farm-raised tend to be fattier. Omega-3's are essential nutrients for our heart and brain. Wild-caught salmon get them from feeding on plants, such as algae and plankton, but the farm-raised salmon has improved their feed to include plants and grains with omega-3's.

Unfortunately, fish consumption is the major pathway to exposure of PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls), an industrial chemical. There have been conflicting studies on the type of fish (farm-raised or wild-caught) with higher levels of PCB's and other contaminants. Random samples of both have at times been outside the levels considered to be safe set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) However, the EPA does not regulate the safety of fish, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does. And the FDA has much more relaxed safety levels than the EPA.

Another issue in purchasing seafood is seafood fraud. There have been reports of incorrectly labeling the type of seafood on the package so that you are not buying the fish you think you are and yet are paying a premium for it. The FDA and the Department of Commerce are cracking down to ensure that the seafood we buy is safe, wholesome, and properly labeled.

All of this does not mean that we should stop eating fish. The benefits, including lowered risk of stroke, heart disease and much more, are too significant to avoid. However, we can be smart about buying and preparing fish. Choose fish without a strong fishy, ammonia smell; they should smell fresh. Don't buy fish fillets that have darkened or dried spots, and if buying whole fish, look for shiny skin with clear eyes. PCB's are often higher in the skin and organs so trim before cooking.

Lighter Fried Fish Fillets Printable PDF

1 pound any white fish fillets (tilapia, catfish, etc.)

2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese

1½ Tablespoons yellow cornmeal

1½ Tablespoons whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon paprika

1 Tablespoon olive or canola oil

Cooking spray

Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 400?F. Rinse fillets under cold water, pat dry. Combine Parmesan cheese, cornmeal, flour, pepper and paprika in plastic bag. Shake fillets one at a time in bag to coat with cheese mixture. Place fillets in baking dish. Drizzle oil over fillets. Bake about 10 minutes per inch thickness of fish or until fish is opaque when flaked. Fillets may need to be turned half-way through baking.

Yield: 4 servings


Nutritional analysis per serving: 167 calories, 5 grams fat, 117 milligrams sodium, 5 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 25 grams protein