For whatever reason, you’re probably not eating enough fish. Americans, specifically, eat a pathetic 15 pounds of fish and shellfish a year. By comparison, they consume a whopping 91 pounds of chicken a year, according to the National Chicken Council.
Yeah, look, there’s nothing wrong with chicken except that chicken is really, really boring. Put all the lemon pepper seasoning on the stuff you want, but you’re always going to look at that grilled chicken breast as an “eat-to-live” meal instead of an “live-to-eat” one.
That’s why you should eat more fish. Fish has flavor. And it also carries a host of other nutritional benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which can help save your heart. (You do like your heart, don’t you?). It also has vitamin D, which can support your immune system.
And fish has protein—sometimes a lot of protein, depending on the fish. Sometimes MORE protein than chicken, even.
This list ranks the highest-protein fish, according to the USDA Nutrient Database. Shop, cook, and eat accordingly.
No lemon pepper seasoning needed.
One four-ounce filet of this slightly oily fish has a potent 34 grams of protein for 212 calories. How does that compare to chicken breast? The same amount (4 oz) has 26 grams of protein and 110 calories. Sure, you’re saving like 100 calories, but yellowtail tastes amazing. Broil it, top it with flaky sea salt and freshly squeezed lemon juice, if you don’t believe Men’s Health. Great sushi bar order too.
Tuna (light, canned in oil)
Yeah, tuna fish! Four ounces contain 33 grams of protein and 225 calories. And don’t work yourself up into a panic about the mercury in tuna fish. The FDA recently issued this statement: “Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.”
Anchovy (canned in oil)
So four ounces has 52 grams of protein for 378. THAT SAID, you’re definitely not going to eat four ounces unless you want to back out of a date or something. But anchovies are very high in two things: omega-3s and flavor. You could pop them on a pizza, but they’re even better in pasta sauce, where they heighten the flavors of everything else instead of overpowering the dish. Mix two anchovy fillets into your next batch homemade sauce when you add your garlic and onions.
This low-calorie, high-omega-3 wild fish houses 31 grams of protein for only 209 calories. Its flavor is intensely fresh and almost sweet, so don’t do anything to ruin it. It’s great right off the grill with lemon juice, salt, and a little chopped dill.
Anglers love it; fish counters don’t always carry it. But when you see trout (or catch it), savor it. The flesh is supremely tender and takes well to a trip to the smoker. A four-ounce fillet will have 30 grams of protein for only 215 calories.
You may see red snapper at your grocery store, but all varieties share a similar nutritional profile: 30 grams of protein and 145 calories for every four ounces. It’s a firmer-flesh fish, so it a great option to grill, and its hearty flavor matches well with oil-and-herb-based sauces.
What tilapia lacks in flavor, it makes up for in an amazing protein-to-calorie ratio. In one fillet, you’ll find 23 grams of protein for only 111 calories. In the taste department, try marinating this fish and then cooking it in a hot cast-iron pan. When it’s flaky, it’s perfect for fish tacos.
Not to be confused with bluefin tuna, raw bluefish is more of light purple than a deep red. Cook the meaty flesh and it turns white and flaky. You may have had it smoked, but it’s also great quickly pan-fried. Four ounces contains 29 grams of protein and 180 calories.
Not the abstract painter. The member of the cod family. It’s flaky. It’s neutral tasting—which is while you’ll often find it inside fish sticks. But it’s also a fast-cooking fish that works well inside a burrito. At 28 grams of protein and 134 for four ounces, it’s a solid nutritional pick.
This fish won’t take first prize at a beauty pageant any time soon, but at 28 grams of protein and 134 calories per four ounce serving, it’s a nutritional winner. Try it pan-seared with blackening spices or Cajun seasoning.
Sardines (canned in oil)
Stop turning your nose up at this omega-3 loaded fish. Consume a four ounce serving and you’ll take in 28 grams of protein for 236 calories. Pop some on some Triscuits and call it a snack.
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