Nutritional Benefits of Seafood
For many people, seafood is one of the palate’s greatest delights. And unlike a thick, juicy steak – clams, oysters, tuna, crab, and other creatures of the sea deliver high-quality protein that is often low in fat and cholesterol. Although there is some evidence that polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids in fish reduce death from heart attack, there are no data that eating fish actually prevents atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in arteries. Nevertheless, nutritionists point out that seafood served once or twice a week can be an integral part of a heart-healthy diet.
Nutritional Benefits of Seafood: A bountiful catch Protein from seafood is considered “complete” because it supplies all eight essential amino acids – the structural components of protein that the body cannot make on its own. An ounce of almost any type of seafood typically has about 6 grams of protein, seafood also contains minerals and vitamins, although not in great supply depending on the type of creature, its habitat, and how it’s prepared, seafood may provide varying amounts of vitamin [B.sub.12]. calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients. Oysters, for example, give diners an abundant supply of zinc. And a 3-ounce serving of pink salmon canned with its bones has 181 mg of calcium and 279 mg of phosphorus. On the other hand, 3-ounces of Atlantic salmon steak has only 10 mg of calcium and 170 mg of phosphorus. Cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and anchovies are higher in fat than others, but because they are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that do not harden when cooled – as saturated fat does – fish oils may be less likely to stick to artery walls.
Health benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids: There are three prominent omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid found in vegetables), and docosahexaenoic and eicosapentaenoic acids (the kinds in fish oils and certain marine mammals). Research has shown that fish oils may hinder the formation of blood clots that can cause heart attack and stroke and reduce severely high blood triglyceride levels a risk factor for coronary disease. There is also some evidence that fish oils help prevent heart rhythm abnormalities. Researchers have also reported that men who consumed an average of 1.25 ounces or more of fish each day over a 30-year period had a 42% decreased rate of death from hear attack than those who are no fish. They examined the dietary histories of 1,822 men age 40 to 55 who did not have cardiovascular disease at the start of the investigation.
However, this investigation found no association between eating any amount of fish and reduction in cardiovascular disease risk. Menu planning still, seafood is an especially good alternative to meats that are high in saturated fats. And because there is evidence that moderate consumption may benefit the heart, dietitians generally recommend that people eat one to two servings of seafood a week. Diners should opt for nutritional variety; for example a lean fish, such as cod, can be eaten one day and a fattier fish, like mackerel, another. Clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops are very low in fat and dietary cholesterol. By comparison, crustaceans such as shrimp, lobster, and crab contain more cholesterol because they are meat eaters. Surprisingly, however, shrimp does not seem to raise cholesterol in the human body.
Something fishy about it however, there are clouded with the belief that consumption of seafood has more risk associated to it than the benefits. Well the results of two new studies assessing the benefits versus the risks of consuming seafood have been made available. The studies, one from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and the other from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that for most people the benefits of eating seafood outweigh the risks. They also stated that even groups at risk, such as pregnant woman and children, could benefit from eating seafood as long as they don’t consume stale or contaminated products.
The four main health benefits of seafood that were emphasized in the National Academy of Sciences Report were:
- Women who are or may become pregnant or who are breast-feeding may benefit from eating seafood, especially those kinds which have relatively higher concentrations of EPA and DHA. A reasonable amount would be two 3-ounce servings per week, but they can safely consume up to 12 ounces per week. They can consume up to 6 ounces of white tuna – that is, albacore – weekly, and should avoid eating large predatory fish such as shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel.
- Children ages 12 under are given under are given the same guidance as pregnant women, except that serving sizes should be are-appropriate.
- Adolescent and adult males and women who will not become pregnant may reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease by eating seafood regularly – for example, two 3-ounce servings per week. Those who consume more than two servings per week should choose a variety of seafood to reduce risk for exposure to contaminants from a single source.
- Adult men and females who are at risk of coronary cardiovascular disease may reduce that risk by consuming seafood regularly – for example, two 3-ounce servings per week. There may be additional benefits from including seafood selections high in EPA and DHA, although supporting evidence is limited.