Traditional Mediterranean seafood dishes can play a key role in maintaining a healthy weight and cholesterol level.
The Role of Fish in the Mediterranean Diet
Fresh Atlantic salmon is one of the best types of fish to use in Mediterranean seafood dishes as it is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and low in calories. If fresh salmon is unavailable, other options include smoked and canned salmon.
Other popular types of seafood used in Mediterranean seafood dishes that are low in calories include bass, mackerel, oysters, sardines, shark, trout and tuna. Seafood that is low in fat includes frogs’ legs, ling fish, pike and North Atlantic cod.
Fish and seafood help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, which is another benefit of a Mediterranean diet. Clams, cuttlefish, crayfish, lobster, perch, shrimp and squid are all high in cholesterol and should be eaten sparingly.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, unsaturated fatty acids that your body needs to develop and function normally. They include monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Other health benefits attributed to omega-3 fatty acids include improved circulation, heart health, improved neurological and immune function, reduced inflammation, and a reduced risk of cancer and other diseases.
Fish and other seafood rich in omega-3s often found in Mediterranean dishes include calamari, crayfish, halibut, grouper, oysters, rainbow trout, sardines, snapper, shark and tuna.
Mediterranean Seafood Dishes to Try
If you are vacationing in Italy or just going out to an Italian restaurant, consider trying one of these traditional Mediterranean dishes:
- Baked Lubina (sea bass): This Spanish Mediterranean dish is a one-pot meal made with garlic, olive oil, pimenton (smoked Spanish paprika), white wine and vegetables.
- Grilled Tilapia Fillets with Plump Prawns: A Spanish dish made with grilled tilapia fillets and prawns cooked in shellfish stock, white wine and vegetables. Tilapia is low in fat and a great source of selenium and vitamin B12.
- Tunisian-Style Grilled Halibut: A halibut marinated in coriander, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, paprika and olive oil.
- Zuppa di Pesca: translates to “soup of seafood”. This is made by combining celery, carrots, garlic, olive oil, onions and peppers with whatever fresh seafood you have handy.
Cioppino, a San Franciscan dish out of Little Italy, is a modern derivative of this classic Italian soup.
If you are interested in using fish and other seafood to replace meat in your diet, you may also be interested in Mediterranean dishes for vegetarians.