Choose seafood for heart-healthy benefits

As temperatures rise, many of us are turning to fresh, light foods to keep us fit and trim in our swimsuits in the upcoming months. Keeping in theme with the season, I have to recommend seafood as an ideal summer dish.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends swapping out burgers and hot dogs with fish at least two times a week – something my family has done for years. I do come from an island, after all!

The truth is, it’s an easy recommendation to follow because there’s such a wide variety of seafood out there – ranging from salmon to octopus – and most are great choices for both flavor and health benefits. Choose light white meats and natural ocean feeders (not bottom feeders, like shellfish) for a good source of protein without the high saturated fat that’s found in many meat products.

And if that wasn’t enough, most seafood is packed with two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, which can promote health by decreasing the risk of arrhythmias, blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. They also have been shown to lower the level of blood fats called triglycerides.

If you’re stuck on ideas for how to prepare seafood dishes, try borrowing from some popular Latin recipes. Many of my friends, for example, love a South American dish called ceviche, in which fish is “cooked” through the acids of citrus juices such as lime, lemon and orange.

If you prefer Asian cooking, I recommend you try tiradito, a traditional Peruvian dish, which draws on the influence of Japanese sashimi and is served with a spicy sauce.

I personally like to keep my seafood dishes simple – grilled with a sprinkle of spice and lemon juice. This allows the fish flavor to shine while also keeping the calorie count down. Seafood pairs best with equally light side dishes, such as rice or vegetables.