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Benefits of Eating A Fresh Seafood Diet - By Michael S. Fenster MD & Chef

Eat This-Fresh Seafood

As a physician, I do my best to heal my patients. I address symptoms and perform procedures when necessary. As an Interventional Cardiologist that at times involves treating heart attacks and placing stents or other devices to open up blocked heart arteries, restore blood flow and reverse years of damage. I try to help restore their health so they may enjoy the rest of their life. Yet after the procedures are done and the prescriptions written, after a time, all I can give is advice and guidance. It is ultimately up to the patient. Counseling often involves trying to establish a balance about what to eat, a realization that your food is your best medicine-or your worst poison. As their physician I want them to consume more things like fresh vegetables, fruit and items rich in fiber. I want them to prepare things in a healthier manner and lower their consumption of foods high in cholesterol, salt, fat and sugar. The latter three being the common evil found in everyday over processed and fast food.

By consuming extraordinary amounts of the over processed fast foods we incur the negative effects of too much cholesterol, salt, fat and sugar. It is a double edged sword because not only do we reap negative effects, but we miss the beneficial effects of fresh, natural alternatives. This includes the delicious bounty from the sea. The Institute of Medicine noted that :

"Seafood is a widely available, nutrient-rich food that provides high quality protein, low in saturated fat and rich in polyunsaturated fats, and particularly the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DHA). Research conducted over the past several years suggests that there are benefits linked to eating seafood that include the dietary advantages associated with consuming a low-fat protein source and possible additional benefits linked to brain and visual system development in infants and reduced risk for certain forms of heart disease."

Omega 3 fatty acids are poly-unsaturated fatty acid, a good type of fat. They are essential for growth and good health. Many studies have shown that a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids may help lower triglycerides and increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Even though their diet was high in fat, because it was primarily derived from seafood and contained omega-3s, the Inuit people were found to have reduced triglycerides, heart rate, blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. That's good for my heart patients. Omega 3 fatty acids may also act as an anticoagulant to prevent blood from clotting and may help lower high blood pressure. That's also good for my heart patients. In addition these compounds have been shown to potentially protect against Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and improve immune function. That's good for everyone. One of the best sources of these omega-3s are cold water oily fish such as salmon, and to a lesser degree fish like tuna.

Yet, none of these health benefits means anything if people won't eat it. As a Chef, I know people won't eat any of the food if it doesn't taste good. It has to taste good. If it doesn't taste good it's not food-it's just medicine. The beauty of consuming these products fresh from the sea is that they simply taste better. They have a delicious flavor you want to savor. Fresh product like this is what I use when I do my Grassroots cooking. It is what I use to cook with and serve, because it is what I want to eat. It is a pleasure. As a Chef, for me, it is all about taste. Translation: It's great tasting food that's great for you. And that's what Doc's all about.

-Michael S. Fenster, MD, F.A.C.C., FSCA&I; Interventional Cardiologist, Chef and host of What's Cooking with Doc (www.whatscookingwithdoc.com) (Institute of Medicine, 2006)

Institute of Medicine. (2006, October 13). Seafood Choices: Balancing Benefits and Risks.Retrieved February 8, 2010, from Institute of Medicine: http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2006/Seafood-Choices-Balancing-Benefits-and-Risks.aspx

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