Why Seafood is Essential to a Healthy Diet
Original article by: Seafood Health Facts, a joint project by the Universities of Oregon State, Cornell, Delaware, Rhode Island, Florida, and California, and the Community Seafood Initiative.
Making Smart Choices Balancing the Benefits and Risks of Seafood Consumption
Resources for Healthcare Providers and Consumers
General Information for Healthcare Professionals
This resource for professionals provides an overview of how risks and benefits of seafood consumption have been assessed by the scientific community and gives information on recommendations by governments and health organizations.
Overview of the Health Benefits of Seafood
Seafood was initially recognized as a healthy food choice because it is a low-fat source of high quality protein. Because high-fat diets were associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and some cancers, the National Research Council (NRC) recommended substituting fish for fatty meats and whole-milk dairy products as a way of reducing fat and cholesterol intake. Seafood is indeed a high-protein food that is lower in calories, total fat and saturated fat when compared to other protein-rich animal foods. Seafood also contains a number of vitamins (A, B-complex, and D) and minerals (selenium, iodine, iron and zinc) that have been linked to various health benefits. To see more information about the nutritional composition of seafood products click here.
Studies have shown that eating seafood can decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke and hypertension. Seafood also provides essential nutrients for developing infants and children. Over the past few decades, there has been an increasing amount of scientific research regarding the health benefits of seafood due to a large proportion of its fat being polyunsaturated; which includes long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Some of these health benefits linked to marine-derived omeaga-3s include: reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, protection against heart attack and sudden death, decrease in blood triglyceride levels, maintains visual acuity, contributes to neurological development in infants and children, increases duration of gestation, and helps build muscles and tissues. These compounds are not produced in substantial amounts by the human body and must be obtained through the diet. The important omega-3 fatty acids found almost solely in seafood are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is a precursor to EPA and DHA and is converted at rates less than 10% in the human body. To see additional information on omega-3s and their role in human health click here.
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