• UMassD Eats

Let's Ask the Dietitian

By: Marketing Manager, Kendall for UMass Dartmouth, Michaella Lesieur

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By now I am sure you have heard that eating fish is essential for your health, whether it was from your doctor, nutritionist, or parents… they are right! We sat down with the Dietitian of Dining Services at Northeastern University Health and Counseling (UHCS), Christine McCarthy Clark and learned that this topic has been around for years. However, you know what is even better…. underutilized fish! Clark explained the benefits of eating local fish and how it’s good for our bodies.

Bold: Michaella Lesieur

Non-bold: Christine McCarthy Clark

What are the nutritional benefits to underutilized fish (ex. monkfish, redfish, scup & dogfish)?

These underutilized fish as well as other similar fish provide a rich source of protein and are low in saturated fat, which is important for heart health. Most fish will also provide a variety of other important nutrients such as vitamin D, calcium, zinc as well as many B vitamins.

Why do you feel it's important to use this fish over cod or salmon? Why buy local?

One of the main reasons would be that environmentally cod is being overfished. It is nice to buy locally to support our local fisherman/women.

What are some easy healthy ways to incorporate fish into your diet for someone who has never really considered it?

For someone who does not really eat fish, I would recommend trying a sauce or seasoning they enjoy to flavor the fish. I would also recommend a favorite side dish along with the fish item, in the hopes that would help them enjoy it. I would also explain the many health benefits of fish.

How often do you think people should have fish?

The American Heart Association recommends that people consume fish about 2 times per week (3.5 oz. per serving) as there are many health benefits to eating fish relating to chronic diseases, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and it may also reduce one’s risk of a stroke.

Are there any precautions that should be taken if looking to start eating more fish?

There are certain fish that contain mercury. However, it has been determined by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Institute of Medicine that with the amount of fish that most people consume there is not a lot of evidence that states that adults should limit their fish intake. It is recommended that they eat a variety of seafood and fish in order to limit consumption, 1-2 per week to possible contaminants in the fish.

There is a warning for pregnant women to avoid the following fish as they contain high levels of mercury: shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish.

It is also recommended to check with local advisories regarding the safety of fish from local lakes, rivers and coastal areas that are caught by family and friends.

Are there any studies out that say fish can help something (ex. illness)?

There is a variety of research that indicates that fish is important as part of a healthy diet. Incorporating seafood and fish has benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease as well as having anti-inflammatory effects.

We so enjoyed learning from Clark and are interested to see how this topic will continue to expand. The Harvard Gazette speaks about the importance of fish in their article from October 2006 titled, “New study shows benefits of eating fish outweigh risks” which can be found here. Each day more studies are coming out and it will be interesting to see how underutilized fish is being used to help our society.

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