Superfoods" are all the buzz in health circles, and with good reason. They pack a powerful punch nutritionally, and are impressive multitaskers with a range of health benefits.
Salmon has a well-earned place among superfoods. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which improve heart and eye health, have anti-inflammatory properties that promote healthy joints, and stave off arthritis and lower the risk of diabetes by improving the body's use of insulin. They also boost the circulatory and immune systems, lower cholesterol and protect against cancers including colorectal, prostate, breast, ovarian, digestive tract, kidney, pancreas and skin (due to the ability to decrease the rate of sunburn). Two essential fatty acids, DHH and EPA, may help prevent Alzheimer's, memory loss and dementia, as well as mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.
Look for wild salmon, instead of farmed (canned salmon usually is wild), because it generally contains fewer contaminants. Chinook and sockeye varieties contain more omega-3 than pink and chum. Salmon is high in protein and low in calories and saturated fat. It also contains selenium, niacin, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamins B6 and B12.
Best of all, it can be prepared in a number of ways. Try this recipe.
EatingWell Magazine's Cashew Salmon with Apricot Couscous
Makes 4 servings
1/2 c. nonfat plain yogurt
3 scallions, sliced, greens and whites separated
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. dried apricots, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
1 1/4 c. water
1 c. whole-wheat couscous
1 lb. salmon fillet, skinned and cut into four portions
1/4 c. toasted cashews, chopped
Preheat grill to medium-high, or position rack in upper third of oven and preheat broiler.
Combine yogurt, scallion greens, lemon juice, cilantro, cumin, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add apricots, ginger, scallion whites and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook, stirring, until softened (about two minutes). Add water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand until the liquid is absorbed (about five minutes). Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, rub salmon with the remaining 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. If broiling, coat a broiler pan with cooking spray. If grilling, oil the grill rack. Grill or broil the salmon until browned and just cooked through (about three minutes per side).
Serve with the couscous, topped with yogurt sauce and cashews.
Tips: Cook chopped cashews in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned (two to four minutes). Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill. To oil a grill rack, put oil on a folded paper towel. Use tongs to rub the towel over the rack.
Nutritional information per serving: 571 calories; 21 grams fat (4 saturated, 9 mono); 68 mg cholesterol; 65 grams carbohydrates; 34 grams protein; 10 grams fiber; 526 mg sodium.