The Many Nutrients in Seafood
Seafood is one of the most nutritious, healthful foods that we can can eat; yet there are varying degrees of risk in eating any food that is in itself made up of components of its environmental exposures and diet.
That seafood is loaded with vital nutrients is undisputed, but the link between healthy ecosystems, healthy sea life and healthy eating strategies is a subject of focus at Monterey Fish.
By eating a variety of seafood, the healthy benefits are realized and the risks involved with a particular seafood are minimized.
The benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids are numerous, and it makes one wonder how far back in history we figured out how to incorporate them into our diets in delicious, and some not-so-delicious ways. Omega 3's have been shown to prevent heart disease, are beneficial to those with Type 2 Diabetes, and chronic diseases involving the immune system. They encourage healthy brain function, help prevent depression and ward off age-related macular degeneration.
Research indicates that children born to mothers consuming higher quantities of omega-3 rich fish are healthier at birth, exhibit higher IQs and have better health later in life.
Omega 3s are found almost exclusively in seafood and many studies, clinical trials and books have detailed their benefits. And the beauty of it is that the healthiest and most balanced way to get those fatty acids and all of the other nutritional benefits in seafood is to eat the seafood, utterly delicious and nothing abstracted or extracted about it.
Many of the fish highest in Omega 3's, like sardines, anchovies, young albacore tuna and salmon, are flourishing in healthy fisheries, and it is in our best interest to keep those fisheries thriving. Herring, shad, jack and salmon in many river systems on the West Coast need continued regulation, management and reclamation to keep their populations steady and growing.
Fish and seafood provide some of the leanest sources of protein. Cod packs a whopping 63 grams of protein for every 100 grams of cod. By comparison, chicken breast offers 33 grams of protein per 100 grams of chicken and tofu offers 48 grams of protein per 100 grams of tofu.
Retinol, or vitamin A, is found in seafood and is vital for red blood production, eye health and overall wellness. Fish like salmon contain vitamin A in the flesh, while fish liver is rich in it. Vitamin E is found in fish oils, and protects our bodies from free radicals. Clams, oysters, mussels, fish eggs, octopus and fish like sardines, salmon, herring, and mackerel are high in vitamins B-12 and B-6, vital for brain function.
Seafood, especially clams, shrimp, oysters and sardines, are a good source of minerals, especially iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Fish bones are rich in calcium and are wonderfully flavorful. Eating small whole fish like smelt, anchovies, and even sardines can pack in the extra bonus of the calcium we need for great bone health. Selenium helps regulate enzymes and protect the immune system from the effects of stress. Oysters and clams are rich in selenium.
The cholesterol content of most fish is similar to that of red meat and poultry, about twenty milligrams per ounce. Some shellfish such as shrimp, lobster and crab are considered high in cholesterol, yet fish is low in saturated fat, and contains polyunsaturated fat, or "good fat", which can help lower cholesterol and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Eating a variety of seafood is a healthy strategy for gleaning the most nutritional benefit.
Seafood and Pregnancy
Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet for all people, especially pregnant women and young children. Scientific evidence has shown that omega 3 fatty acids, found exclusively in seafood, are essential to the complete development of the brain, nervous system, immune system and retinal system during pregnancy and for the first two years of life. Yet there is reason for concern about exposure to methylmercury and its effects on the developing fetus and child.
Studies are showing that the nutritional benefits of omega 3's are too important to development to omit them from the diets of pregnant women and growing children. FDA guidelines are recommending eating omega 3-rich seafood, while avoiding fish testing high for mercury.
The best choices for pregnant and nursing women are all species of wild salmon, anchovies, sardines, shad, sablefish, butterfish, Boston mackerel, Pacific mackerel, bonito and herring. Light meat fresh and canned albacore and skipjack tuna from the Pacific Ocean labeled "low mercury" are the best choices for tuna.