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Eat More Fish with Tips from 12 Healthy Habits Hero, Lyf Gildersleeve

Lyf Gildersleeve, owner of Portland's Flying Fish Company | Portrait: John Clark

Despite the "eat more fish" push from healthy-eating advocates and nutrition researchers, Americans are eating less seafood each year, while red meat and poultry consumption climb. Does it matter? Well, it very well might. The primary fats in fish have been shown to protect the body against heart disease, reduce blood pressure and inflammation, and possibly lessen your chances of some cancers.

But many fisheries are in trouble, and "more fish" needs to be "sustainable fish." Fortunately, a multitude of smartphone apps, websites, and insignia on labels help pinpoint seafood that has been caught—or raised—using planet-friendly means.

Apps in hand, all that's left to decide is what type of seafood to cook and how to cook it. However, for some people, that's precisely the problem. "We get a lot of customers asking for fish that's 'not so fishy' or wanting to know how to cook it so it won't taste fishy," says Lyf Gildersleeve, this month's hero and owner of Portland, Oregon's Flying Fish Company. "No fish is 'fishy' unless it's bad." That's not to say there aren't stronger and milder fish. "Everybody's got a different palate," says Gildersleeve, "and unfortunately, one bad experience with fish sometimes turns people off. People say they don't like fish, but I think they just haven't had the right fish."

Getting people to eat more fish is Gildersleeve's passion. His parents started the original Flying Fish Company in Sand Point, Idaho, where Gildersleeve worked while growing up. He went on to study aquaculture in college and opened his own Flying Fish Company store. "I've been selling fish my whole life," he says.

"Good fish smells slightly sweet, like the ocean. Fresh fish shouldn't be off-putting," he says. "Frozen fish, as long as it was frozen and vacuum-packaged immediately after being caught, can be excellent. Check the country of origin, and only buy fish from the USA, Canada, and some parts of Costa Rica or Ecuador. If you do your homework, you can find some real gems."

 

Milder fishes, like tilapia, are good if you're trying fish for the first time or learning to appreciate it anew. Find the recipe for Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia with Squash Salad.

Lyf's Tips for Eating More Seafood > WATCH THE TIME. "The first thing I tell people when they want to know how to cook fish is, 'Don't overcook it.' The key is to remove it from the heat when it's still a bit underdone. Fish continues to cook for three minutes after you take it off the stove."

> START MELLOW. If you're trying fish for the first time or are learning to appreciate it anew, avoid stronger fish. "Some varieties of fish, like chinook salmon, black cod, and sablefish, have stronger flavors than others because they have a higher oil content. Go with something milder, like a Dover or petrale sole, grouper, or even snapper. Cod and tilapia are good, too."

> GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED. Instead of trying to sneak in seafood, make it an engaging activity, Gildersleeve suggests. "My daughter loves when I bring crab home and she gets to crack the shell and pick the meat out of it. Let them help you make patties. Then brown them on a griddle and make little sandwiches. When they're involved in the process, they appreciate it more."