Seafood rich diets ensure we receive the macro and micro nutrients we need for a wide variety of biochemical functions. Our bodies depend on these nutrients, but we do not produce them naturally. B, D and A vitamins, as well as minerals such as zinc, iodine, iron and selenium, are essential for healthy growth. Omega-3 fatty acids–EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA or docosahexaenoic acid are–in every cell in our bodies, regulating and reducing symptoms associated with ageing, heart disease and deteriorating brain function. EPA and DHA are “good” fats, which contribute in important ways to healthy hearts, bones and brains and vision.
Seafood helps promote beauty as well as health; the iron in shellfish can help maintain healthy hair, and zinc plays a vital role in rejuvenating skin cells, keeping skin cell walls moisturized, and skin clear of spots and blemishes caused by build-ups of bad fats.
Seafood health benefits can also span generations. New scientific studies are showing that good nutritional health can be genetically passed from parents to children. So adding more fish to your family's diet creates a good foundation for the future.
Seafood is a high-protein, low-calorie, heart-healthy alternative to meat. In the light of strong and consistent evidence about the benefits of seafood to the whole body, the USDA recently increased its daily seafood intake recommendation from 3.5-oz. to 8- to 12-oz., or two servings per week.
Here are some of the specific ways in which seafood helps us to stay healthy:
Healthy Hearts - Doctors believe that the combination of nutrients in fish, including omega-3 fatty acids, can together reduce the risk of heart disease. The omega-3 acids are an unsaturated “healthy” fat, which can reduce cholesterol, blood vessel inflammation and clotting caused by build ups of too much “bad” saturated fat, found (for example) in meat. Seafood is also rich in selenium, an important immune system trace element. Deficiencies in selenium have been linked to heart disease.
Bigger, Sharper Brains - Eating fresh fish has been found by brain researchers studying healthy older people, to be associated with larger gray matter volumes in the hippocampus—the brain area responsible for memory and cognition. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to aid brain cell connection. Better brain cell connection helps to avoid depression and improves learning capabilities.
Clearer Vision – The Vitamin A in seafood contributes to better growth of the retinal nerves, aiding vision development.
Stronger Bones - Fish is rich in vitamin D, which helps to increase bone mineral content and produce stronger healthier bones. Adding fish to your diet may also protect against "brittle bone" or osteoporosis symptoms later in life, since omega-3 fatty acids help to increase the amount of calcium that the body absorbs, so strengthening the skeleton.
Healthier Pregnancies - Salmon, cod, trout and haddock are all fantastic sources of lean, baby-building protein, particularly valuable during the third trimester, when the baby´s brain is growing fast. Omega-3 also helps mothers-to-be, by stabilizing heart rhythms, as well as raising mood levels and enhancing memory function. Vitamin A is also vital for healthy pregnancies and for reproductive fertility.
Better Skin Complexion – Vitamin B12 is also present in seafood and helps skin cells regenerate so promoting healthier, clearer skins.
Fish Oil Supplements and Natural Seafood - Fish oil and other vitamin supplements derived from fish have grown in popularity over the past few years. However, the nutritional effects are not the same. Seafood contains a more complete healthy acid profile than fish oil, and therefore delivers a wider range of benefits, which are more easily absorbed by the body. Another important difference relates to quality. Fish products are strictly regulated for quality and safety. The fish oil and vitamin supplements industry is unregulated in many countries, and quality can vary considerably between manufacturers of fish oil and supplements.