Health Advice



Choosing Seafood

Charlyn Fargo on

Most of us know we need to eat more seafood. The new U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend two servings per week. After all, it's heart healthy, low in calories and high in protein.

So, why don't we choose it more? Maybe we're intimidated by how to prepare it or just what seafood we should choose.

While eating a variety of seafood is always best, you may want to start with salmon and tuna, seafood that has a power trio of vitamin D, omega-3s and selenium, and is easy to prepare.

First, the benefits: A 2018 study found 40% of Americans don't get enough vitamin D, a nutrient that helps maintain healthy bones and teeth and fight viral and respiratory infections. While we can make vitamin D from the sun, many of us are at risk because of where we live or how often we go outside or wear sunscreen. Both salmon and tuna (along with some mushrooms) are natural sources of vitamin D.

Salmon and tuna are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart-healthy fats. A 2016 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who eat an omega-3-rich diet have reduced heart disease risk, lower blood pressure and lower triglyceride levels. The research also found that omega-3s help reduce chronic inflammation, a major contributor to many chronic health problems, including heart disease.

Selenium in seafood is another benefit. It's an essential mineral, which means it has to be obtained through your diet. Fatty seafood, such as salmon and tuna, are good sources of selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant, which helps immune function and with oxidative stress, according to research on selenium and immunity published in 2018 in the journal Nutrients.

The benefits of seafood are worth giving it a try. Your heart will be glad you did.

Q and A

Q: Is avocado oil a healthy oil to use?

A: Avocado oil is a heart-healthy oil, high in oleic acid, which is an unsaturated fat. It contains vitamin E and helps the body absorb other fat-soluble vitamins (A, D and K). In addition, avocado oil is an excellent source of lutein, which is a carotenoid. It's similar to olive oil in terms of use and nutritional value. Don't be put off that it's green in color; that's because cold-pressed avocado oil is unrefined and retains some of the flavor and color of the fruit. Like other fats, although they are healthy because they are unsaturated, they pack a few calories. All fats have 9 calories per gram. One tablespoon of avocado oil has 14 grams of fat and 124 calories.


My favorite way to prepare salmon is on the grill using a cedar plank and an herbed spice mix. The recipe is adapted from Easy Culinary Science Cookbook by Jessica Gavin.


Servings: 4

1 cedar plank soaked in water for 60 minutes

1 pound salmon fillet, skin on


1 lemon, cut into wedges

Spice Mix:

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon each: dried oregano and dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon each: pepper, cayenne pepper

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Place cedar plank in a sheet pan with water, and soak for an hour. If the board floats, place a heavy object on top. In a small bowl, combine all the spices (brown sugar through cinnamon). Evenly coat the surface of the salmon with about half the spice mix. Reserve additional spice for later use or as extra spice after cooking the salmon. Heat the grill to medium-high heat (400-450 degrees). Remove the soaked plank, and lightly dry. Place plank on grill grate, and close the lid. When the plank begins to smoke and lightly char, remove it from the grill for 7-10 minutes. Put the seasoned salmon, skin side down, on the plank (charred side up). Place plank with salmon on the grill, and cook the salmon about 15 minutes, or until fish begins to flake. Serve with lemon wedges.

Per serving: 179 calories; 23 grams protein; 5 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated); 62 milligrams cholesterol; 1 gram fiber; 1 gram sugar, 171 milligrams sodium.


Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Ill. For comments or questions, contact her at or follow her on Twitter @Nutrition Rd. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at




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