Seafood offers such a rich diversity of delicious protein and memorable eating experiences that it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s also amongst the healthiest foods on our planet. Here are seven of our favourite reasons to include seafood in a balanced diet, as recommended, at least twice a week (including at least one oily fish):
1. It’s packed with nutrients – essential vitamins and minerals – that lots of people are lacking.
Species such as salmon, trout, sardines, tuna and mackerel are particularly high in nutrients like iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, calcium and selenium as well as vitamins A, B12 and D. These fish also have high omega-3 fatty acid contents, which is crucial for optimal body and brain function and strongly linked to the reduced risk of many diseases.
2. It’s one of the most heart-healthy foods you can eat.
Many observational studies have found that people who eat fish regularly have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart disease. As well as lowering blood pressure and heart rates, eating seafood maintains cardiovascular health by supporting the regulation of blood clotting and vessel constriction.
3. It’s essential for growth and development.
The omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – most easily obtained from seafood – is particularly important for brain and eye development. For this reason, it’s often recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women ensure they consume sufficient omega-3s. Fish has also been shown to help with concentration and attention in adolescents.
4. It’s brain food.
The consumption of fish is linked to reduced mental decline in older adults, with studies finding that people who eat fish more regularly have more grey matter (the brain’s major functional tissue) in the parts of the brain that control memory and emotion. Studies have also associated eating fish with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as reducing stress, anxiety and other symptoms of depression.
5. It supports vision and eyesight.
People who eat more fish have a much lower risk of AMD (age-related macular degeneration), which is a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness in adults. This is because our eyes are heavily concentrated in omega-3 fatty acids and need them to maintain their health and function. These same good fatty acids also help increase airflow to our lungs, making seafood effective against colds and flu.
6. It’s a strong defense against symptoms of arthritis.
Seafood rich in omega-3 acids can help combat joint and muscle pain by lowering inflammation and reducing arthritic symptoms. Fish consumption also aids recovery from exercise, with its component nutrients proving extremely beneficial in helping sportspeople recover from fatigue and helping muscle regeneration.
7. It gives us more energy and keeps us in shape.
Seafood is an excellent source of lean protein, which is a vital source of energy for our bodies that also helps rejuvenate damaged cells and build muscles. Fish are also low in calories and can play an important role in maintaining a healthy weight.