Stock up on calamari. New research shows this seafood delicacy is jam-packed with health-boosting omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Let’s face it, we don’t all like seafood, and when we do eat it, we’re often quite selective about the type of fish or shellfish we eat.
“I only eat deboned hake that’s been coated in thick batter and deep fried,” one of your colleagues might quip. Another might add that they avoid other types of seafood such as shellfish or, heaven forbid, calamari. And maybe their disdain is justified… Have you seen a squid up close?
Calamari is better than you think
Well, now there’s another reason to enjoy the bounty the sea has to offer. Squid is not only a sustainable source of seafood; research shows that, when prepared in the right way, it’s a pretty good source of omega-3 fatty acids. A 100g serving of squid can contain up to 0.6g of omega-3 fatty acids out of the recommended 7 to 11g you should be consuming each week.
And here’s why you really should be paying attention: omega-3 fatty acids can help lower your risk for heart disease, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Plus, preliminary research shows that these essential fatty acids can keep your memory sharp and improve your mood.
Apart from upping your omega-3 levels, squid offers other health benefits too: 85g contains 80 calories and 13g of protein. It also provides 20% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin B2, phosphorus and vitamin B12, and contains vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B3, calcium and iron.
Other good marine sources of omega-3 include gemfish, Atlantic salmon and swordfish.
For the anti-fish brigade
In 2008, the Australian Heart Foundation launched a position statement on omega-3 fatty acids, encouraging adults to consume at least 500mg of EPA or DHA (two types of omega-3 fatty acids) from oily fish every day.
However, recent figures show that an estimated 40% of Australians are still uncertain about whether omega-3 fatty acids really contribute to heart health, while three in every five don’t eat the recommended two to three servings of oily fish per week.
Could these three in five people be the “anti-fish brigade” and, if so, how can they also obtain their daily allowance of omega-3s without actually eating fish?
Although it’s harder to reach your weekly omega-3 goal if you don’t eat fish, your allowance can still be met through supplements in capsule or liquid form. Other omega-3-enriched foods and drinks, such as milk, yoghurt, eggs, bread and soy drinks, could also assist.
Look out for good-quality supplements that contain at least 500mg of EPA and DHA in a daily dose, to supplement your diet. When you’re out shopping for omega-3 enriched foods and drinks, always go for the ones clearly marked “with added omega-3 fatty acids”.
Calamari oil to the rescue
If you can’t imagine yourself eating a kilo of calamari a week, and let’s face it even Greek squid fisherman might scoff at that, you can bump up your omega-3 intake by taking one small capsule of calamari oil each day.
More than 2 million tons of squid is caught around the world yearly. Of this, 10% of the food-grade raw material is not used for human consumption. Calamari oil comes from this unutilised portion of the catch – which is approximately 200,000 tons.
The calamari oil is processed and tested to ensure optimal levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Tests show that calamari oil is in fact the highest known source of DHA or docosahexaenoic acid. So not only is the production sustainable, this seafood delicacy is now a highly sought after health supplement.
For the calamari clan
Love calamari? Instead of waiting for your once-a-month restaurant visit to eat your fill of calamari, try cooking it yourself. It’s easier than you think.
When preparing squid, remember that it’s best cooked over high heat for a very short time. Also keep in mind that deep-fried calamari contains a lot of added fat – grilled or seared calamari should always be your first choice.
Easy calamari recipe
- 450g calamari tubes or strips, cleaned
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ tsp lemon rind, grated
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- Lemon wedges
- In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, lemon rind, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Cut calamari tentacles from tubes.
- Score the top layer of each tube crosswise, 5cm apart.
- Add the tentacles and tubes to the mixture in the bowl, and toss to coat.
- Cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Place on a greased grill over high heat, close lid and cook for two minutes, turning once.
Serve on a bed of fresh mixed greens and drizzle with a squeeze of lemon.
REMEMBER: Squid is an environmentally friendly source of omega-3 fats and is not overfished. So, you can eat your lion’s share without feeling guilty about the impact on the environment. Enjoy!
Image via Thinkstock