Sunday, May 22, 2011

Farmed Raised Tilapia Risks and A Poached White Fish Recipe

The researchers say the combination could be a potentially dangerous food source for some patients with heart disease, arthritis, asthma and other allergic and auto-immune diseases that are particularly vulnerable to an "exaggerated inflammatory response." Inflammation is known to cause damage to blood vessels, the heart, lung and joint tissues, skin, and the digestive tract.
"In the United States, tilapia has shown the biggest gains in popularity among seafood, and this trend is expected to continue as consumption is projected to increase from 1.5 million tons in 2003 to 2.5 million tons by 2010," write the Wake Forest researchers in an article published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
They say their research revealed that farm-raised tilapia, as well as farmed catfish, "have several fatty acid characteristics that would generally be considered by the scientific community as detrimental." Tilapia has higher levels of potentially detrimental long-chain omega-6 fatty acids than 80-percent-lean hamburger, doughnuts and even pork bacon, the article says.
"For individuals who are eating fish as a method to control inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, it is clear from these numbers that tilapia is not a good choice," the article says. "All other nutritional content aside, the inflammatory potential of hamburger and pork bacon is lower than the average serving of farmed tilapia."
The article notes that the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, known scientifically as "long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids" (PUFAs), have been well documented. The American Heart Association now recommends that everyone eat at least two servings of fish per week, and that heart patients consume at least 1 gram a day of the two most critical omega-3 fatty acids, known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
But, the article says, the recommendation by the medical community for people to eat more fish has resulted in consumption of increasing quantities of fish such as tilapia that may do more harm than good, because they contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, also called n-6 PUFAs, such as arachidonic acid.
"The ratio of arachidonic acid (AA) to very long-chain n-3 PUFAs (EPA and DHA) in diets of human beings appears to be an important factor that dictates the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oils," the researchers write. They cite numerous studies, including a recent one that predicts "that changes in arachidonic acid to EPA or DHA ratios shift the balance from pro-inflammatory [agents] to protective chemical mediators ... which are proposed to play a pivotal role in resolving inflammatory response" in the body.
For their study, the authors obtained a variety of fish from several sources, including seafood distributors that supply restaurants and supermarkets, two South American companies, fish farms in several countries, and supermarkets in four states. All samples were snap-frozen for preservation pending analysis, which was performed with gas chromatography.
The researchers found that farmed tilapia contained only modest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids -- less than half a gram per 100 grams of fish, similar to flounder and swordfish. Farmed salmon and trout, by contrast, had nearly 3 and 4 grams, respectively.
At the same time, the tilapia had much higher amounts of omega-6 acids generally and AA specifically than both salmon and trout. Ratios of long-chain omega-6 to long-chain omega-3, AA to EPA respectively, in tilapia averaged about 11:1, compared to much less than 1:1 (indicating more EPA than AA) in both salmon and trout.
The article notes that "there is a controversy among scientists in this field as to the importance of arachidonic acid or omega-6:omega-3 ratios vs. the concentration of long-chain omega-3 alone with regard to their effects in human biology." Those issues are raised in an editorial in the same issue of the Journal.
The Wake Forest article anticipates that criticism and notes that one human study involving AA showed a probable gene-nutrient connection to coronary heart disease in a specific group of heart disease patients. In another study, four subjects were removed after consumption of high amounts of AA due to concerns about the effect of the acid on their blood platelets.
Floyd H. "Ski" Chilton, Ph.D., professor of physiology and pharmacology and director of the Wake Forest Center for Botanical Lipids, is the senior author of the Journal article. He said that in next month's Journal, he will publish a rebuttal to this month's editorial.
"We have known for three decades that arachidonic acid is the substrate for all pro-inflammatory lipid mediators," Chilton said in an interview. "The animal studies say unequivocally that if you feed arachidonic acid, the animals show signs of inflammation and get sick.
"A New England Journal of Medicine article three years ago said if you had heart disease and had a certain genetic makeup, and you ate arachidonic acid, the diameter of your coronary artery was smaller, a major risk factor for a heart attack," said Chilton. "My point is that it's likely not worth the risk in this or other vulnerable populations."
Chilton said tilapia is easily farmed using inexpensive corn-based feeds, which contain short chain omega-6s that the fish very efficiently convert to AA and place in their tissues. This ability to feed the fish inexpensive foods, together with their capacity to grow under almost any condition, keeps the market price for the fish so low that it is rapidly becoming a staple in low-income diets.
"Cardiologists are telling their patients to go home and eat fish, and if the patients are poor, they're eating tilapia. And that could translate into a dangerous situation.
Information from Science Daily

Poached White Fish

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped seeded jalapeƱo pepper
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
4 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 lemon sections, finely chopped
optional: cayenne pepper for more heat

6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 cloves of minced garlic, coarsely chopped
1 parsley sprig
1 cilantro sprig
4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets or other white fish filets

Combine first 8 ingredients set aside. Combine water and next 5 ingredients (through cilantro sprig) in a large skillet; bring to a low simmer (180° to 190°). Add fish; cook 10 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan with a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Serve with sauce

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Purple Passion Lemon Herb and Garlic Potato Recipe

When we went to Hawaii, I was introduced to these. They serve them often in their restaurants with entrees.

Living up to their royal hue and lineage, purple potatoes have long been considered the food of gods — 7,000 years ago they were reserved for Incan kings in their native Peru. Perhaps the ancients knew there was more to this tuber than its violet skin and flesh because, as we are learning today, it serves up a kingly portion of health benefits.

Its history traces back to the Purple Peruvian, an heirloom fingerling potato. But other purple varieties bred specifically for optimal health benefits are sprouting up today.
Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are part of the Solanaceae or nightshade family, along with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. Potatoes supply a wide range of vital nutrients to the diet and are a particularly good source of complex carbohydrates, potassium, vitamin C, folic acid and iron.
The purple spud's striking pigment is its nutritional crown and glory, courtesy of the antioxidant powerhouse anthocyanin, which is responsible for the purple and blue colors of fruits and vegetables. This flavonoid has been shown in studies to possess anti-cancer and heart-protective effects, as well as benefits such as boosting the immune system and protecting against age-related memory loss.
U.S. Department of Agriculture analysis of potato varieties reveals that their content of phenols (powerful plant antioxidants) rivals that of broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts. If you factor in the particular benefits of anthocyanins, the health-promoting benefits of purple potatoes skyrocket. In fact, geneticists are actively crossbreeding potatoes to examine the added health benefits of colored spuds.
Research by the USDA Agricultural Research Service found that potatoes with the darkest colors have more than four times the antioxidant potential of those currently available commercially. One such potato variety, the Purple Majesty, has almost twice the amount of anthocyanins of any other produce. Another new variety, the Purple Pelisse, will be available fall 2011.
Purple potatoes can add a striking flash of royal color — and nutrition — to your favorite potato dish.
Environmental Nutrition is a newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition. Go to Information from the Chicago Tribune.

Purple potatoes are mostly small and oval in shape, and they feature a dark blackish purple skin. Inside the potato the flesh is a bright purple. While it may be a bit out of the ordinary it can be a beautiful visual accent to any dish. Generally when you are picking out a this type of potato you want it to be firm and plump, but you do not want one that shows any sign of deterioration. You do not want to store these in the refrigerator. The extreme cold will alter the interior of the potato structure.

Instead, they will keep longer if they are stored in a cool dark place like a pantry. Be careful not to put them next to onions because the gas that onions emit can actually break down the structure and speed up the decaying process.

The process of cooking these potatoes is not as distinct as you may have thought. It is a bit different than a regular potato.
The only difference is purple potatoes cook much quicker than regular  white potatoes. 
You can basically: boil them, steam them, bake them, grill them and roast them.

While these kind of potatoes may not be a food that you are familiar with they can be quite a bit of fun to experiment.
Here's a simple recipe:
Purple Passion Herb and Garlic Potatoes
Boil several 2 to 3 pounds of small potatoes till tender, drain. Cut open or in halves.
In a medium size bowl add:
Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Toss with some fresh parsley and 3 cloves minced garlic or 1/2 teaspoon  garlic powder and 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter.  Serve warm.


Plastic Filled Christmas Ornaments

The skies the limit with imagination with these plastic filled Christmas ornaments! Using things I find around the house and outside t...