In 2011, researchers at Harvard University responded to the USDA’s MyPlate dietary plan with a modified design of its own – Healthy Eating Plate. It emphasized the importance of choosing healthy protein, primarily fish, over other sources such as red meat, which does not have the same nutritional value but remains a heavily influential industry in the American agricultural landscape.
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Each day we are faced with the challenge of feeding ourselves and our loved ones. As simple as it may seem, this fundamental responsibility can quickly become a daunting task. You may find yourself asking: What are the healthiest options for my family? What foods taste the best? What will fit in my budget? We all know that choosing from the endless products in local supermarkets is an overwhelming endeavor. What foods can we depend on being both delicious and nutritionally beneficial?
According to the USDA’s MyPlate dietary initiative, a well-balanced meal includes fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods and dairy. At least half of a full meal serving is recommended to include fruits and vegetables, like those of the dark green variety; protein foods should come from different sources, including at least 8 ounces of cooked seafood per week. WeFeedUs™ supports this healthy diet by supplying local communities with leafy greens and fish harvested in its greenhouses. Consumers will not only enjoy the robust taste and convenience of fresh, locally-grown produce, but these products will be available year-round. Families can share crisp salads and protein-rich tilapia filets even through the cold winter months.
Delving deeper into the health benefits of romaine, spring mixes, spinach, and other greens, we find that these deceivingly simple vegetables contain essential micronutrients – vitamins, minerals and other dietary compounds necessary for normal body growth, development and function. Only required in small amounts, these “magic wands,” as the World Health Organization whimsically refers to them, can cause serious consequences when absent from a person’s regular diet. Severe vitamin A deficiency, for example, causes otherwise preventable blindness in children and increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections.
Common micronutrients include Iron, Vitamin A, C, D, K, Folic Acid, Calcium, Potassium, Zinc and Sodium. Each offers its own unique contribution to the maintenance of a healthy body:
- Vitamin K = Aids blood clotting. Maintains bone health.
- Vitamin A = Essential for eyes, skin and the proper function of the immune system. Helps keep hair, bones and teeth healthy.
- Vitamin C = Ensures healthy gums, skin and connective tissue. Aids in iron absorption.
- Iron = Essential for making hemoglobin, which transports oxygen in the blood to produce energy.
Fish boasts no fewer health benefits than green vegetables. In addition to serving as a reliable source of protein, The American Heart Association suggests that eating fish twice a week can decrease the risk for cardiovascular diseases such as arrhythmias. The reason for this lies in fish’s omega-3 fatty acids. These n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease triglyceride levels, slow growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque and lower blood pressure. Contrary to popular belief, fish oil supplements do not perform as effectively as eating fresh fish. Therefore, when trying to accomplish your goal of increasing weekly fish intake, look to sources such as WeFeedUs™ that provide the best possible quality of fresh fish without the danger of deadly toxins.
Tilapia, in particular, possesses several unique health benefits. First, it is a known fat-burner. According to the USDA, one 3.5-oz serving of tilapia has 128 calories, 3 g of fat, 1 g of saturated fat and 57 mg of cholesterol. To compare, 3.5-oz. of lean beef sirloin with the fat trimmed has 182 calories, 8 g of fat, 3 g of saturated fat and 78 mg of cholesterol. The same size serving of tilapia also offers 26g of protein, or 52 percent of the daily value of protein needed for healthy growth, tissue repair and wound healing. Finally, similar to romaine, tilapia contains an array of micronutrients. A few examples include B12, Niacin and Selenium.
Due to careless fishing practices and devastating worldwide ocean pollution, many fish species are disappearing and/or dangerously contaminated. Aquaponic systems, like the ones utilized by WeFeedUs™, are truly a beacon of hope in a time of great decline within the seafood industry. Establishing a sustainable model of fish harvesting will ensure the preservation of commercial fishing while eliminating the presence of poisons like mercury.
Consumers are frequently sold false guarantees about the products offered in their local supermarkets. “Fresh” produce, in reality, has been shipped from farms thousands of miles away. The salmon that, on one hand, is good for your heart contains harmful contaminants. WeFeedUs™ has a simple mission – to produce affordable quality, healthy food for local communities in a way that leaves zero negative environmental impact. We think, why take a chance when feeding yourself and others? We are what we eat, after all.
- American Heart Association -http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp
- Harvard Health Publications/Harvard Medical School – http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/harvard-to-usda-check-out-the-healthy-eating-plate-201109143344
- Livestrong.com – http://www.livestrong.com/article/194414-micronutrients-in-the-diet/; http://www.livestrong.com/article/347397-tilapia-fish-benefits/
- United States Department of Agriculture - http://www.choosemyplate.gov/
- World Health Organization – http://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/micronutrients/en/