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The start of autumn may not typically trigger thoughts of seafood, but there's good reason it should -- October is National Seafood Month!

Hot or cold outside, seafood is in.

Why? In case you don't know or need a reminder, eating seafood as part of weekly diet has health benefits across the life-cycle. Here are the known compelling reasons for eating seafood:

1. Help with healthy brain development of infants and children.

2. Maintaining good heart and cardiovascular health -- The cholesterol question was answered more than a decade ago, and it appears that not only fish but shellfish, such as shrimp, improves heart health.

3. Weight Control --  The combination of lean protein with a lack of saturated and trans-fat but containing good fat is to credit for helping with weight control.

4. Anti-aging -- Omega-3's and antioxidants are at play to prevent memory loss as we age. There is also reason to believe seafood helps us look younger longer and that fish oils may even prevent muscle loss associated with aging.

Scientific studies have attributed most of these health benefits to the "good" omega-3 fats found in seafood, but it goes beyond that. Seafood offers a variety of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, which is one mineral that acts as an antioxidant, helping the body rid itself of damaging free radicals that can age our cells and cause disease, including cancer and heart disease. As for the best anti-aging and anti-cancer seafood, shrimp and salmon are the best choice. The pink color in both comes from a compound called astaxanthin, a carotenid phytochemical (plant nutrient) and antioxidant known for its powerful free radical scavenging effects.Shrimp and salmon get this plant nutrient from eating specific algae that naturally contain it. The benefits are passed to the shrimp and salmon and other seafood that eat the specific pink or red algae, much the same way that salmon get their omega-3 fatty acids from eating krill.

In other words, seafood can help you look and feel great.

When? The 2010 Dietary Guidelines from Americans calls for Americans to eat at least two servings of seafood per week and for the general population to increase amount and variety of seafood consumed. This means now is the perfect time to add seafood to your weekly meals repertoire and party menus.

How? As for socializing this fall, from tailgating and game nights to Halloween and Thanksgiving get togethers, think seafood. For small or large groups, cook up a savory seafood cioppino (seafood stew), or simply set out some shrimp cocktail. If you're heading to an outdoor tailgate party, pack up some "peel & eat" seasoned shrimp or grilled shrimp with dipping sauce. For daily meals as well as special occasions, there is a great variety of fresh seafood to be found in supermarkets everywhere. The fresh seafood offerings have expanded nationwide due to improved farming methods (responsible aquaculture) creating abundant, healthy and sustainable supplies of fresh seafood. For nutritional comparisons, more information can be found on the National Fisheries Institute website at www.aboutseafood.com.

If you're looking for a simple, healthy everyday recipe, try the featured recipe below. It's a quick and colorful (=vitamin-rich) way to enjoy shrimp any time of year!

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Nutritionist Susan Greeley, MS, RD suggests Tilapia Nuggets for dinner!

As the kids head back to school, many moms (and dads) hit the books too -- cookbooks, that is! Back to school means back to the kitchen. Good nutrition habits may have gone on vacation with the family this summer, but when it's time to get back into a routine, parents look for ways to get nutritious meals on the plate every day. Moms in particular start thinking about making meals that keep kids focused and fight the flu. Eating fish can help with both! It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital in brain development of infants and young children and also support a healthy immune system. These good fatty acids may even help children who deal with anxiety and attention issues, and the lean protein and minerals found in fish are needed for young growing bodies.

Tips for getting young ones to eat fish

There's knowing and then there's doing. Parents can tell their children that the fish on their plate is good for them or may even help make them the smartest kid in class, but how do you get them to actually eat and enjoy this brain food? The following tips may help make meal time more pleasant by making fish a family favorite.

1. Keep it simple. Most kids don't want fancy or gourmet or UFO's (unidentified food objects) when it comes to dinner time. If they can't identify what they're eating, they often turn up their noses.

2. Make it crispy or crunchy. There's a reason breaded and fried foods, such as fish sticks and nuggets, are kid pleasers. They offer texture and flavor that kids like, and there's nothing unhealthy about making fish this way at home. Breadcrumbs, cereal, and even potato chips can be used to make a tasty, crispy fish enjoyed by the entire family.

3. Fun food tastes better. Okay, maybe not, but kids are more likely to eat it if you give a dish a silly name, so why not try it?!

For a favorite back-to-school dinner that can teach basic shapes to young ones or simply amuse your older geometry student, try this easy recipe for a cornflake-encrusted pan-fried tilapia that guarantees clean plates. As a nutrition side note that parents will feel good about, you can get as much as 160 mg omega-3's per 3-ounce serving of tilapia!