Fish is the premiere natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are not naturally produced by the body and, therefore, must come from food.
If you’re an expecting or breastfeeding mom, it’s even more important to eat fish because it’s a vital staple for optimal brain and eye development in babies, as well as brain and heart health for moms. Eating two to three servings of fish each week has also been shown to have a positive effect on developing babies’ and children’s IQs. Unfortunately, many mothers avoid eating fish based on fears associated with misinformation.
“Years ago, there were concerns that trace amounts of mercury in fish could be harmful, but, actually, hundreds of peer-reviewed studies show the health benefits of eating fish are real and the powerful nutrients in fish outweigh any potential concerns,” says Jennifer McGuire, MS, RD. “In fact, at a time when people are told to limit many foods, including popular proteins, seafood is among the handful of foods Americans are encouraged to eat more of for their health. Seafood is a satisfying and affordable source of protein that is easy to incorporate into meals twice a week.”
According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, healthy eating patterns should include at least 8 ounces – or two servings – per week of a variety of seafood because it is an important part of eating patterns that contribute to a healthy heart and weight. Seafood also provides powerful nutrients including brain-building omega-3 fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, vitamin D, iron and selenium. In addition, eating seafood during pregnancy contributes to better health for babies.
Currently, the average American eats about half of the recommended amount of seafood, and the average mom-to-be eats less than a quarter of the recommended amount each week. If you’re not eating as much fish as you should, don’t worry – making a shift to add more seafood to your diet is easier than you think. Just substitute fish for meat, such as in a taco, or add it to a pasta dish. Fish can be the main course of a quick weeknight dinner, a pack-ahead lunch or even a weekend brunch. Fish is so versatile, you can easily add it to pasta, rice, tacos or a scrumptious salad, like this easy-to-make farro, tuna and fennel salad with crumbled feta.
Farro, Tuna and Fennel Salad with Crumbled Feta
1/2 cup farro, uncooked
1 (5-oz.) can tuna, drained
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 large bulb fennel, cut in half, cored and sliced very thin
2 generous handfuls baby arugula
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Cook farro according to package directions. Drain well if any cooking water remains.
2. Transfer farro to a large bowl. Add tuna (flake with a fork), chickpeas, fennel, arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, cumin and salt. Toss well.
3. Spoon into a shallow serving bowl or small platter and sprinkle feta over the top.