As you get older, it’s just as important to focus on your cognitive health as your physical health. It’s not necessary to do hundreds of crosswords or puzzles each week to keep your mind sharp though. Instead, start by looking at your daily diet. Studies show that following a Mediterranean diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, and, most importantly, seafood can help slow cognitive decline in healthy seniors. Fish such as salmon and other seafood rich in omega-3s may even help prevent depression, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. Here are a few nutritionist-recommend seafood recipes that promote healthy aging.
Smoked Salmon and Dill Sheet-Pan Frittata
Love seafood but don’t like to cook fish? Chef Julie Harrington, R.D., recommends using store-bought smoked salmon in salads, on whole-grain toast, and in recipes such as her sheet-pan frittata. “Eating seafood two to three times per week reduces the risk of death from any health-related cause by 17 percent,” she says. “Omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon are essential amino acids that your body needs to produce hormones that regulate blood clotting and blood vessels. They also help your body regulate genetic functions. Strong evidence suggests that getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, along with an overall healthy diet, significantly reduces inflammation, too.”
5 ounces smoked salmon (lox), chopped
3 scallions, chopped
½ cup dill, roughly chopped
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 deep baking dish with cooking spray.
- Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread smoked salmon, scallions, dill, and grape tomatoes evenly in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Gently pour eggs over the smoked salmon mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until eggs are cooked through and top begins to brown.
Bouillabaisse is one of those seafood recipes that seems complicated at first. But Nicole Hallissey, R.D.N., author of The Truly Healthy Pescatarian Cookbook: 75 Fresh & Delicious Recipes to Maintain a Healthy Weight, recommends trying her version, which is made in a single pot (cleanup is a breeze!). She says you can customize it with whatever seafood you have on hand.
“There are so many ways to make this fish stew,” she says. “What I’ve learned is that you just need to make it your own. I like keeping it simple, using pre-made seafood stock and keeping everything cooked in one pot. The key is to use a variety of the freshest seafood you can find. Some of my favorites are sea bass, cod, halibut, and flounder.”
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
⅓ cup finely chopped fennel fronds
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon saffron threads
6 cups seafood stock (or vegetable stock)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
8 ounces cod, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
8 ounces halibut, cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks
10 clams, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, drained and scrubbed
8 ounces medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
10 mussels, scrubbed and beards removed
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
Your favorite crusty artisan bread, for serving (optional)
- In a large, heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium to high heat. Add the onion, garlic, fennel, and orange zest. Season with salt and pepper, and add the saffron. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until fragrant. Add seafood stock and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce heat and bring to a simmer. Add the cod and halibut. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes.
- Next, add the shrimp, clams, and mussels. Cook for another 5 to 6 minutes, until the clam and mussel shells have opened, the shrimp turn pink, and the fish flakes easily with a fork. Discard any mussels or clams that haven’t opened.
- Turn off the heat, add the fresh parsley, and stir. Ladle the stew into bowls and serve warm with slices of crusty bread.
Billi Green, R.D.N., specializes in senior nutrition. She recommends cooking up this twist on chicken piccata that’s made with salmon instead for a healthy boost. “Omega-3 fatty acids and the presence of vitamin D may increase gray matter in the brain and help to improve memory,” she says. “In addition, seniors are at risk of depression due to loss of mobility, loneliness, and other factors. A diet high in fish has been shown to guard against depression. It is also protective against age-related macular degeneration.”
1 pound salmon fillets or steaks
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 fluid ounces white wine
¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon cumin
Pinch of thyme
⅛ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup capers
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Put a little oil in the bottom of the baking pan and place the salmon, skin side down if using fillets, in the pan.
- In a small bowl, add olive oil, garlic, wine, lemon juice, cumin, thyme, salt, and pepper. Whisk to mix thoroughly.
- Press one tablespoon of the capers in a garlic mincer and add to the sauce. Whisk sauce again.
- Pour sauce over the salmon. Add remaining capers.
- Bake 12-15 minutes until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Try to eat seafood at least twice a week for best results. Serve it with a side of vegetables and whole grains to complete your smart meal.