Something Fishy

by Lisa Donovan

So, after thirteen years as a devout vegetarian, I have decided to incorporate fish into my diet.  The steps of this vegetarian journey have been interesting for me to be a part of:  the young, idealistic, revolutionary-minded fifteen year old that started it all, the turn to becoming an introspective college kid who was more interested in saving herself than the world, the woman with kids who wanted to make sure her children weren’t suckered into our horrifically un-nutritious culture and, now, an almost-thirty year old wanting to insure my own longevity and health for many, many years to come. 

I don’t disagree that a person can live an ultimately healthy and long life as a pure vegetarian.  I’ve seen it in many over-fifty friends of mine.  Something changed in me, though, about two years ago.  I am not certain what it was, but, somewhere along the lines I started having an insatiable urge to eat fish.  It struck me as odd because I have never eaten fish in my life - with the occassional popcorn shrimp or fishstick my mom would fry up when I was a child.  I wasn’t craving something that I missed - I was craving something that I have never had before.  I started to think that maybe my body was trying to tell me something - maybe my body wasn’t so interested in the taste of fish as much as it was interested in what the fish could offer in nutrients.

Here’s what I have found:

Fish are nutritious and good to eat. When properly prepared, fish provide numerous health benefits, especially for the heart. The American Heart Association recommends eating two to three fish meals each week. The benefits of eating fish include:

*Fish offer high-quality protein with fewer calories than a similar-sized portion of meat. For example, both catfish and ground beef are about 18% protein. But, for an 8-ounce meal, the catfish will have only about 232 calories, while the regular ground beef will have about 640 calories.
*Fish are low in sodium and are good sources of potassium, vitamins, and other minerals.
*Fish are generally low in cholesterol and saturated fats, which have been associated with high blood pressure and heart disease.
*While the benefits of fish on nutrition are still being studied, much of the current research is focused on various kinds of beneficial fats in fish, particularly a kind called omega-3 fatty acids which are in some fish and fish oils. Some studies have indicated that these fatty acids have favorable effects on health conditions such as hardening of the arteries, high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Granted, you can get all of these nutrients elsewhere if you work really hard to incorporate them into your diet.  I used to use a lot of flax seed in my cooking but, since having children I don’t cook as many things from scratch as I used to.  I dunno.  Also, I guess I am just tired of feeling guilt - which I hate to admit is a large part of my deal.  I can’t stand the thought of anything dying because of me.  I want to find balance in my life that can reconcile the fact that,indeed, I may want/need some other proteins and nutrients that I am not getting due to my lack of diligence with my diet with my need for a clear conscious.  I want to find some maturity to my ideals and find that balance.  I want to explore the next step of my progression as a human being. 

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 20th, 2006 at 10:12 am and is filed under Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Nutrition for Adults. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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