According to the American Heart Association, eating fish twice a week will lower your risk of heart failure, heart attack, and stroke. The best fish for heart health are oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, or albacore tuna. These fish are all high in omega-3 fatty acids.
So many people have heard about the benefits of omega-3s that fish oil is the most popular nutrition supplement in the United States. However, the latest research shows fish oil isn’t as beneficial as actually eating fish. Whole fish offers a wealth of nutrients besides omega-3 oil, such as protein and selenium. For reasons scientists do not yet fully understand, nutrients often provide the most benefit when they are combined with other nutrients—in the form of food!
Eating fish is both healthy and delicious! Here are a few tips for including fish in your meal plan:
Keep seafood on hand. Seafood doesn’t need to be fresh to give you health benefits. Canned and frozen seafood varieties are just as healthy.
Be creative. Try different ways to enjoy seafood like seafood salads, tacos, stir-fry, or with pasta.
Cook it safely. Make sure you follow safe food handling practices and cook seafood to an internal temperature of 145oF.
ChooseMyPlate.gov offers tips on how to get more heart-healthy seafood on your plate.
When preparing any fresh produce, start with clean hands. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after preparation. Wash all produce thoroughly under running water before preparing and/or eating. This includes produce grown at home, purchased from a grocery store, or bought at a farmers’ market.
Washing fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent, or commercial produce wash is not needed. It is important to wash the surface of the produce, even if you do not plan to eat the skin. Dirt and bacteria can be transferred from the surface when peeling or cutting produce. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. After washing, dry produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce bacteria that may be present on the surface.
Many precut, bagged, or packaged produce items are prewashed and ready to eat. If so, it will be stated on the packaging and you can use the produce without further washing.
Cut away any damaged, discolored, or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing and/or eating.
Make sure all cutting boards and knives used to cut fresh produce are washed in soapy water and rinsed before using again.
In a nonstick skillet, cook bacon and onions until browned. Remove from skillet, reserve 1 tablespoon bacon grease, and set aside.
In a large bowl stir together has browns, potatoes, baking mix, cheese, bacon, and onions. Stir in milk and eggs until mixture is moistened.
Heat bacon grease in skillet over medium heat. Measure a generous 1/4 c. of potato mixture into a skillet and add three more 1/4 c. helpings into the skillet. Flatten into pancakes, and cook each side 2 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve and enjoy!
These pancakes freeze well once prepared. To freeze, let pancakes cool completely, put in a single layer on a baking sheet, place in the freezer, and transfer to heavy-duty freezer bags when frozen.
Nutrition Information per Serving:
161 calories, 8g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 38mg cholesterol, 412mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate, 1.5g fiber, 2g sugar, 6g protein
March is National Frozen Food Month! To celebrate, try these nutritious and delicious options from and helpful tips for the frozen food section:
Frozen Produce–Frozen fruits and vegetables are an excellent option when purchasing out of season produce. Frozen varieties are packed with nutrients, sometimes more than fresh items, because they are packaged at the peak of harvest season. Frozen produce is a great way to save money without sacrificing flavor.
Frozen Meat, Poultry, Seafood–Fresh animal protein can be expensive behind the counter, but frozen options can be just as nutritious and delicious when carefully selected. Proteins not breaded or fried are the best options. The frozen section is also a terrific place to find several meat alternatives, such as plant-based burgers or tofu meatballs.
Check the saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar content on the Nutrition Facts Label; try to purchase products with less than 10% of the Daily Value.
Save frozen entrées and pizzas for busy nights; add other items to these meals and snacks, such as steamed vegetables, sliced apples with nut butter, or a side salad, to increase nutrient density.
To start stocking your freezer, here is a chart with recommended storage times for common frozen food items:
One of the biggest buzzwords in current media refers to the smallest subject: the human gut microbiome. This microbiome is a collection of microorganisms living in the human intestinal tract; aka the “good gut bugs.” These good gut bugs help our gut produce compounds needed for digestion and absorption of other nutrients. They also provide protection against harmful “bugs” and support our immune system. These good gut bugs have also been shown to promote brain health.
There is communication between the human microbiome and the brain, called the gut-brain axis. This means the health of your gut microbiome may impact the health of your brain—a healthy gut leads to a healthy brain.
The best way to take care of your gut microbiome is to focus on your overall eating pattern.
Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Choose fiber-rich foods because increasing fiber can promote abundance of gut bugs.
Try fermented foods and foods with pre- and probiotics to improve the variety of your good gut bugs.
Prebiotics are plant fibers that promote the growth of healthy bacteria. They are found in many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, including apples, asparagus, bananas, barley, flaxseed, garlic, jicama, leeks, oats, and onion.
Probiotics contain specific strains of healthy bacteria. The most common probiotic food is yogurt; other sources include bacteria-fermented foods, including sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi.
Shreiner AB, Kao JY, Young VB. The gut microbiome in health and in disease. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2015;31(1):69–75. doi:10.1097/MOG.0000000000000139.
Foster JA, Lyte M, Meyer E, Cryan JF. Gut microbiota and brain function: An evolving field in neuroscience. Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2016;19(5):1–7. doi:10.1093/ijnp/pyv114.
Jandhyala S, Talukdar R, Subramanyam C, Vuyyuru H, Sasikala M, Reddy D. Role of the normal gut microbiota. World J Gastroenterol. 2015;21(29):8787–8803.
Fruit-infused water has become popular in recent years. It’s a great way to drink more and stay hydrated. With no added sugar, it’s a good alternative to juice or soda. The endless flavor combinations are tasty and refreshing. There are some important food safety tips to remember, however. To avoid increased bacteria growth and foodborne illness, follow these tips:
Start with clean hands; wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
Wash produce thoroughly under cool running water. Use a clean produce brush on firm items such as oranges or lemons.
Use clean cutting boards and utensils to avoid crosscontamination.
Store infused water in the refrigerator at 40°F or below in a sealed pitcher.
If you are taking your infused water on the go, make sure to drink it within four hours. Infused water at room temperature must be used or discarded after four hours to prevent bacteria growth.
For best results, drain fruit solids within 24 hours and refrigerate water up to three days.
Always start with clean equipment for new batches; avoid refilling the same pitcher.