Sunday, August 4, 2013

How to Cook Healthy Food for Kids : Mussels Recipe

"You're nothing but skin and bone."  Growing up, that's what one of my aunts would always say to me whenever she saw me.  That's aunt-speak for, "Kid, you look like a puny wimp."  I used to wear baggy clothes in an attempt to appear larger.  It took me until college before I realized that doing so only accentuated the lack of bulk.  All around me, I saw guys coming out of the gym with huge muscles, which further enhanced my own insecurities about my body.

To this day, when I see my aunt, she still makes a comment that I'm too skinny and I need to eat more.  I don't take offense, because it's her way of expressing her love for me.  It's a Taiwanese thing.  But as an adult, I made a realization about myself.  What do I need huge muscles for?  I'm able to do everything I need to do with my small muscles.  And, I already nabbed the woman of my dreams.  Today, I am a happy and secure man who wears his sports jackets proudly...over a nicely padded, thick sweater.

As far as my children are concerned, I don't care if they grow massive, bulky muscles.  However, I do care about supporting their bodies with lean protein so they can grow normal, healthy, lean muscle.  One fantastic source of lean protein is seafood.  Seafood is nutritionally dense, quick to cook, low in saturated fat, and a good source of essential omega 3 fatty acids.  To read more about omega 3 fatty acids, see my previous post:       

After fish, mussels are one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids amongst seafood.  Mussels are rich in essential vitamins and minerals and are a particularly good source of vitamin b12.  Mussels also provide the same high quality protein as red meat, but much less saturated fat.  Studies show that people who increase their intake of lean meat actually increase their muscle mass.  So eat mussels for muscles!  In the following clip, I demonstrate an easy and tasty recipe for mussels:

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Here is a link to the recipe I used in the above clip: 

However, one of the concerns with seafood is it tends to be high in cholesterol.  This creates a lot of confusion because people don't know if they should eat something that is otherwise good for them but high in cholesterol.  In the early 1970s, dietary guidelines were put forth to limit our cholesterol intake.  These guidelines were based on the premise that cholesterol in food increases blood cholesterol and clogs arteries.  However, although dietary and blood cholesterol are chemically similar, they are not the same thing. 

While cholesterol in food can raise blood cholesterol levels, the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol is not nearly as significant as once assumed.  For instance, a review of the 167 published cholesterol feeding studies involving 3,519 subjects dating back to 1960 concluded that an increase in dietary cholesterol of 100 mg/day corresponds to an average increase of only 2.2 mg/dL in total blood cholesterol levels. 

Furthermore, it is now evident that total blood cholesterol is not as important as where blood cholesterol is going and what it is doing.  Cholesterol that is being carried on Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) particles is considered bad because that cholesterol is transported to arteries and elevations in LDL cholesterol have been associated with higher risk of heart disease.  On the other hand, cholesterol that is being carried on High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) particles is considered good because that cholesterol is being removed from the bloodstream and low levels of HDL cholesterol are associated with higher risk of heart disease.  The previously mentioned analysis found that dietary cholesterol actually increases both LDL and HDL cholesterol levels.  The addition of 100 mg of dietary cholesterol per day increases LDL cholesterol by 1.9 mg/dL and HDL cholesterol by 0.4, leaving the ratio of LDL:HDL and Total:HDL cholesterol practically unchanged.     

Thus, although seafood is high in cholesterol, the impact of dietary cholesterol on blood cholesterol needs to be put into perspective.  Considering that seafood is otherwise a nutrient dense, lean protein that is low in saturated fat, it should be considered as part of a healthy balanced diet.


Mozaffarian D & Rimm E.  Fish intake, contaminants, and human health: evaluating the risks and the benefits.  JAMA.  2006;296:1885-1899.

Lejune MPGM et al.  Additional protein intake limits weight regain after weight loss in humans.  Br J Nutr 2005;93:281-289.

Westerterp-Plantenga MS et al.  High protein intake sustains weight maintenance after body weight loss in humans.  Int J Obes Realt Metab Disord 2004 Jan;28(1):57-64.

McNamara DJ.  The impact of egg limitations on coronary heart disease risk: do the numbers add up?  J Am Coll Nutr 2000;19:540S-548S.

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