Baked Cod

This lemon baked cod is a light, healthy-tasting addition to any meal, being low in calories and low in saturated fat. The cucumbers combined with the lemon juices create a delicious taste similar to that of dill cucumbers. The celery gives a tasty, satisfying "crunch". White fish cod is one of the best sources of easily absorbable protein, which is essential for healthy building and repairing of cells in the body. Yet cod has almost zero carbohydrates or fat, while being high in the nutrient content of vitamin B12, along with vitamin B6, which are important in keeping homocysteine levels low.

Homocysteine is a molecule that is associated with the blood vessel walls - when seen in high proportions can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. Cod also contains niacin, another B vitamin, which will help lower cholesterol. This white marine fish is an excellent source of selenium, phosphorus and potassium. Consuming baked cod regularly decreases risk of heart attack and promotes cardiovascular health because it is one of the best sources of blood-thinning omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA will help reduce the risk of arrhythmia and/or sudden death. Also, omega-3 fatty acids greatly help improve the function of the heart muscle which helps protect against an ischemic stroke. Recent studies have shown that increasing consumption of omega-3 fatty acids significantly improves heart function in as little as two weeks, not just long-term cardiac benefits as once believe. Only two servings of omega-3-rich fish a week can lower triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides are linked to high total cholesterol, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol), which can increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Research indicates that most improvement occurs when fish containing the omega-d fatty acid is consumed five times a week or even daily. A healthy goal is to eat at least 10 ounces of omega-3-rich fish each week to improve the electrical properties of heart cells, which will help protect against fatal abnormal heart rhythms. Cod is not only beneficial in protecting against fatal heart arrhythmia, but also in helping prevent and control high blood pressure. Consuming a daily serving of omega-3-rich fish, like baked cod, provides significantly greater reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease than eating fish even as frequently as a couple of times a week according to the American Heart Association. Eating boiled or baked cod, but not fried, may reduce risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common type of heart arrhythmia. The lemon baked cod recipe below is ideal to incorporate into any heart healthy diet.

Recipe Ingredients:

2 medium cucumbers (about 8 in./20 cm. long) with peels

2 celery stalks

4 thick cod fillets, about 5 oz./140 g. each

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

grated rind and juice of one lemon

dashes of black pepper

lemon wedges, to garnish (optional)

Recipe Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 200 degrees C. Cut the celery and cucumber, with peel remaining on cucumber, into long fine sticks and arrange over the bottom of a baking dish. Place the cod fillets on the cucumber and celery making sure the cod fillets are arranged in a single layer for even baking. Sprinkle the parsley, lemon rind, and juice over the fillets. Season with dash of black pepper. Cover the dish with an ovenproof lid or foil and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillets, until the flesh turns white and flakes easily. Serve while warm with the cucumber and celery, spooning over the cooking juices. If desired, garnish with lemon wedges and serve with favorite vegetables.