Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tilapia deadly than bacon? You gotta be kidding me!

(Steamed Tilapia with lemon-butter sauce, a few spurts of mayo and pickled relish)

Two nights ago, I was in the company of great and wonderful friends composed of couples involved in different ministries in our church. As usual, the women talked about the daily grind of motherhood, wife to our husbands, other than attending to our careers. Our favorite topic is food, of course, and seems that recipes are always and forever exchanged, trying out new formulas and acquiring newfangled tastes.

I was surprised, however, when one of our men mentioned that Tilapia (sometimes referred to as sunshine snapper, cherry snapper, Nile Snapper and St. Peter's fish since it is thought to be the fish St. Peter caught in the Sea of Galilee, tilapia has been farmed in Israel for about 2,500 years) is more deadly, more fattening, and more dangerous to eat than bacon! You gotta be kidding me! My favorite protein-rich fish is deadly? I was fumed by this thought! How is that possible? I have been eating Tilapia all my life and I’m hearing this?

I was dedicated to find out more about this shocking news for this has really saddened me. Eliminate this favorite of mine from my diet and you'll find me marching down the street along with other freedom fighters! This is outrageously insane!

Tilapia is a freshwater fish that is abundantly cultured in the Philippines. They are also now being introduced in the southern regions of the United States and other tropical areas such as Hawaii. They are sold live, fresh and frozen — whole and fillets. The fine-tasting meat typically is white, although the meat of red skinned tilapia may have a reddish tint. A most agreeable fish, tilapia is great on the grill, broiled, baked, pan-fried or stir fried. In addition to its versatility, pleasant flavor and low calorie count, the retail price of tilapia remains reasonable in comparison to other seafood, thanks to the efficiencies of modern aquaculture. Tilapia also is known for taking on many of the flavors of the ingredients it’s cooked with. For example, cooking in a stir-fry with soy sauce and veggies gives it an Asian flair. Many cooks even combine it with "fruity" flavors such as cherries or lemons.

I have to wonder if researchers at Wake Forest University are second-thinking the wisdom of their statement that "the inflammatory potential of hamburger or pork bacon is lower than the average serving of farmed tilapia."
On the one hand, it certainly got the attention of the press. Hundreds of blogs and news outlets immediately ran with the obvious headline: Tilapia worse than bacon! Then, all the health experts had to go on record, saying how ridiculous it was to suggest that bacon is a better choice than tilapia.

In a nutshell, the researchers were simply pointing out that all fish are not nutritionally equivalent and that the American Heart Association's blanket recommendation to eat more fish in order to reduce risk of heart disease may be overly general.

We hear a lot about fish being a good source of omega-3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory and are thought to be a hedge against heart disease. But we usually don't hear much about the omega-6 content of fish. Omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory and are generally thought of as "bad."

For one thing, some fish, such as salmon, are very rich in omega-3, where are others, such as tuna, grouper, and snapper, contain much less. More importantly, though, certain fish, especially farmed catfish, tilapia, and salmon have very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, including a particularly inflammatory omega-6 called arachidonic acid. (This is likely due to the vegetable-oil enriched diet fed to farmed fish.)

Three of the most commonly eaten fish (tuna, farmed tilapia, and farmed catfish) actually contain more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. And (drumroll, please) some of the tilapia sampled for this particular study contained more arachidonic acid (and less omega-3) than bacon or hamburger. Which is how they ended up with the statement, "the inflammatory potential of hamburger or pork bacon is lower than the average serving of farmed tilapia."

In fact, I would agree with that statement. However, I think I'd stop short of promoting bacon as a healthier choice. Although it may be lower in arachidonic acid, it's a whole lot higher in fat and calories. Excess calories can easily lead to fat storage which leads directly to inflammation.

So let's keep this all in perspective here, shall we?

1. Bacon, while perhaps not directly inflammatory, is high in fat and calories (not to mention sodium) and should probably be enjoyed in moderation.
2. Fish is a great source of high quality protein and can be a good source of beneficial omega-3 fats-- good for the heart!
3. If you're eating a lot of farmed tilapia and catfish (especially if you're doing so in an attempt to reduce your risk of heart disease) there are other fish that are probably better choices, such as wild salmon, sardines, and others.

So, my verdict? I’ll eat my Tilapia, steamed, and enjoy the benefits it gives to my body… only in moderation!


Enjoy Harmony in Your Home - Part VIII

Create healthy meals and fun mealtimes. Aim to plan and cook healthy, delicious meals for your family regularly, and to enjoy eating those meals together as often as possible. Involve each family member in planning menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then post the menus in a prominent place, and shop for all the ingredients in advance. Have everyone pitch in to help prepare the meals as much as possible; assign everyone a job (even young children can help wash fruit and vegetables or set the table). Make eating together a high priority; try to arrange your schedules around eating at least dinner together whenever you can. Ask each other questions to encourage interesting and positive conversations at the table.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Christian the Lion

I’ll bet you’ve never seen a pet like the one in this Video of the Day. In 1969, two friends, John Rendall and Ace Berg, purchased a lion. At the time, Christian the lion was a 35-pound cub. He had been born in a zoo. The friends raised Christian in their London home. All three hung out in a friend’s furniture shop on the weekends.

Within a year, Christian had grown to 185 lbs. Rendall and Berg realized they couldn’t keep him much longer. But they didn’t know what to do with him. A chance encounter changed that. Two actors from the film Born Free walked into the furniture store.

The actors recommended a conservationist, George Adamson, living in Kenya. Christian was soon in Africa. There he was rehabilitated and released into the wild.

In 1974, Rendall and Berg decided to visit Christian one last time. He was now a wild animal. Adamson told them it was doubtful that Christian could be found. No one had seen him in nine months.

The two flew to Kenya, anyway. On the day they landed, Christian appeared outside Adamson’s camp. Somehow, he knew. He waited outside the camp until Rendall and Berg arrived.

This video was taken during their reunion with Christian. What a story! What a video!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

COLD White Walls and Shiny Floors

(What shall the future hold? My thoughts about nursing in a foreign land away from home)

Soon will there be long hours of walking, long walks of caring
When the sun sets, the shiny floors, everyday will I stride
With medical supplies, in my hand I shall cautiously grasp,
My long hair twisted in a bun, tied with a net, sheltered with a cap.
There’s no time to sit, my busy hands never go empty
A peek of my sunken eyes, will they ever grow sleepy?
As I stroll by the white walls, in my mind,
I wished, I was home with you that day!

Just a glimpse of a one long night,
Attending to a client, his eyes, so deep.
With an IV line on his left, his height about six feet.
So strong a physique, now frail, lazy and weak.
If he smiles, will mine eyes turn misty?
For I know not the extent I will long for thee.
Swiftly I shall turn away, with cold tears,
unfathomable what may surround me.

I shall take his vital signs, his cold hands held unto mine
With moist eyes, while I take his pulse rate
Like the ocean waves, rhythmically,
I shall flow with his heartbeat.
What may I know but of this man I know not?
What’s with the man that I feel in my gut?
Oh my love, will I hold you beyond the day’s tomorrow?
Will you still be, for we have vowed and said forever?

Ah, somber mystery of this man’s eyes unspeaking
Is that a mirror of an enigma,
Of life’s love with my spouse?
Why, where has this left mine heart seeking?
For I know the secret since the world has known.
And now, where has this left mine spirit fleeing?
The rite of promises, yet they are all unknown.
Alas! To the cross, I lay them down, answers He will have shown.