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Order fish but hold deep fryer, tartar sauce

Just about any kind of fish is a healthful choice when dining out, but be sure to avoid the fried offerings, a consumer group cautioned Wednesday in releasing its newest restaurant survey.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which has criticized the fattiness of Chinese, Italian and Mexican fare, says seafood restaurants offer a greater variety of healthful meals than other establishments.

"As long as it's not fried, smothered in cheese or cream or layered with tartar sauce, your seafood will be low in fat," senior nutritionist Jayne Hurley said at a news conference Wednesday.

The group also released results of a national poll that found some public support for its efforts and reported that restaurants are making their menus healthier.

Despite sodium levels that were still high but below those in meals analyzed in other surveys, Hurley said the best ways to eat seafood are baked, broiled, blackened, grilled or steamed.

Flounder, cod, haddock, sole, shrimp, scallops, crabs and clams are the best choices, because of their low fat and high vitamin and mineral content. But shrimp has higher cholesterol levels than most other seafood.

Fried seafood, besides being high in fat, is high in artery-clogging fat because many seafood restaurants, including the Red Lobster national chain, fry fish in partially hydrogenated oil, Hurley said.

A spokesman for Red Lobster did not return a message seeking comment.

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