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Family Matters – July 2017   arrow

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Seafood the Superfood

Jessica Clifford, CSU Extension Nutrition Specialists MS,
RDN; and Anne Zander, CSU Extension FCS Agent MS

The term “seafood” generally includes freshwater and saltwater fish, such as oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster, and crayfish. The five most popular seafoods are shrimp, canned tuna, salmon, pollock, and tilapia. So what type of swimming superfood would your family eat and enjoy?

Fish is a good source of iron and one of the best sources of B vitamins such as B12, B6, niacin, and riboflavin. Eating a variety of fish is a great way to get more minerals such as selenium, zinc, copper, iodine, and manganese.

In general, fish are very lean, but so-called “fatty fish” have a slightly higher fat content. Fatty fish are important sources of the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K.They also contain healthy, unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish include salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, tuna, and lake trout.

Food Safety

The message that the FDA and EPA want to convey is that fish should be a part of a healthy diet. Contaminants, including mercury, are a concern in larger, older fish due to the build-up in the tissue. “Advice about Eating Fish” is a user-friendly chart on the FDA website to help choose fish that will minimize contaminant risk.

Safe Handling

  • Always wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling seafood.
  • Thaw frozen seafood (including vacuum packed) in the refrigerator. Allow one day for thawing.
  • Seafood can also be thawed under cold, running water or in the microwave oven. Use the lowest power setting on the microwave until fish feels cool, pliable, and slightly icy. Cook immediately after thawing.
  • Don’t let juices from raw seafood, meat, or poultry come in contact with cooked or ready‐to‐eat foods.
  • Wash the cutting boards, utensils, counters, sink and your hands with hot, soapy water after preparing raw seafood, meat and poultry.
  • Serve cooked seafood on a clean plate, never the same plate you used for the raw product.
  • Refrigerate any leftovers within 2 hours after serving them or discard.


  • Fish sticks are fine as long as they aren’t made from shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel or tuna, which most don’t appear to be.
  • Children under six should eat less than one half a can of tuna (three ounces) per week. Specific weekly limits for children under 6 range from one ounce for a child who weighs about 20 pounds, to three ounces for a child who weighs about 60 pounds.
  • The type of tuna can make a difference. Read the label on canned tuna and choose “Chunk Light” or “Chunk” tuna. They have less mercury than the “Solid White” or “chunk White” canned tuna. Canned tuna composed of smaller species of tuna such as skipjack and albacore has much lower levels than most tuna steaks.
  • Aim to eat about two servings of fish each week, and make one of those servings a fatty fish.
  • Eat fresh fish within two days of purchase, and consume frozen fish within about two months of purchase.

Let’s Talk

Getting children to enjoy different types of fish can sometimes be tricky, especially if fish sticks are at the top of the request list. Get your family involved in the menu planning to include seafood regularly, trying simple recipes first. Remember to check for small bones in fish when it comes to children! Most kids seem to love food on a stick, so try simple fish kebabs, with cherry tomatoes and cubes of fish added onto each skewer. Grill the kebabs and serve with plenty of salad and warmed pita bread.

Encourage your family to build their own food by providing cooked fish fillets and buns, wraps, taco shells, cucumber slices, grated carrot, shredded lettuce and some cheese. See what they come up with – a towering fish burger or maybe a fish taco.

Recipe for Success:

plate of food

Baked Fish & Chips

4 cups potatoes (about 4 medium)
1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 fish filets (of any fish), thawed (about 3 ounces each)
3 cups cornflakes
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
1/3 cup flour


  1. The potatoes chips take longer to bake. Once they are in the oven, prepare the fish.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  3. Scrub potatoes under running water using a clean vegetable brush. Cut in half and then into 1/4 inch slices.
  4. Combine potatoes, oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Stir so potatoes are covered with oil.
  5. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay slices out in a single layer.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn potatoes over and bake for 15 minutes more. (for a total of 30 minutes)
  7. Cut each fillet into two strips.
  8. Place cornflakes in a plastic bag. Crush by rolling a glass over the bag.
  9. Beat egg and water together in a bowl.
  10. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Put flour on a dish. Dip each strip into flour, then egg mixture, then cornflakes.
  11. Bake in oven for 15 minutes until fish easily flakes with a fork.

*Recipe from Spendsmart University of Iowa Extension


  • Colorado State University Extension. Fat Soluble Vitamins.
  • Harvard School of Public Health. Fish: Friend or Foe?
  • University of Washington, Michigan, and Iowa Extension Services