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Q&A: Food for thought ... Seafood rich in omega-3

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Question: What food sources are high in omega-3 fatty acids?

Answer: Fish and seafood are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids, of which EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids are found almost exclusively in cold-water seafood such as salmon, trout, white tuna, sea bass, herring, oysters and sardines.

We find the third omega-3 fatty acid, known as ALA, in plant sources, including flaxseed, walnuts, sunflower seeds, canola oil and dark-green leafy vegetables. The current dietary guidelines recommend consuming fish and/or seafood at least two times a week.

A 3-ounce serving of fish is the size of a full deck of cards, and the guidelines suggest two servings per week.

Question: Is mercury a concern when consuming fish?

Answer: Yes, especially in children and child-bearing-aged or pregnant and nursing women. Mercury is a neurotoxin that accumulates over time and is higher in larger, more mature varieties of fish.

The FDA and EPA strongly advise pregnant and nursing women or women who may become pregnant to avoid eating swordfish, shark, king mackerel and tilefish (Gulf of Mexico). Some of the fish with lowest mercury concerns are catfish (farm raised), clams, cod, crab, flounder, sole, haddock, herring, oysters, pollock, rainbow trout (farm raised), salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp, squid, tilapia and light tuna.

An excellent website that will provide you with local fish consumption advice is http://fn.cfs.purdue.edu/fish4health/

Question: What is meant by portion and serving when consuming foods?

Answer: A portion refers to the quantity of food a person chooses to eat, no matter the amount. However, a serving refers to specific USDA food quantities, commonly listed on food labels in ounces, cups, tablespoons, etc.

For recommended servings based on your individual caloric needs, I recommend that you visit www.choosemyplate.gov. The MyPlate guidance tool highly recommends making one-half of your plate fruits and vegetables, one-fourth of your plate a lean protein and one-fourth of your plate a whole grain, plus one serving of milk or milk products.

Another helpful source is: http://www.fshn.hs.iastate.edu/nutritionclinic/handouts/portion-control-guide.pdf.

Question: What are the advantages/disadvantages of a convection oven?

Answer: A convection oven is simply a gas or electric oven with a fan, which helps distribute the heat more evenly throughout the oven cavity. A convection oven typically cooks your food a little faster because of the air movement, which can reduce your baking/roasting time up to 25 percent plus your energy costs.

If you bake using multiple racks in your oven such as two baking sheets of cookies, they will bake more uniformly and you will not need to rotate baking sheets in the convection oven; again, this should over time result in less energy used.

One of the disadvantages that I’ve discovered is when I’m roasting meat or poultry. Typically in a true roast, you do not cover the meat. So with the convection setting, the fan will distribute juices, meat fats, etc. throughout the oven cavity, which over time increases the need to clean your oven.

True, most of the units offering the convection setting will also have the self-cleaning setting, which is certainly a nice feature when purchasing your new appliance.

Linda Souchon is extension educator at the Purdue Extension Johnson County office.

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