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Nutrition

Seafood, Best Catch for Health


Aim for at least two servings of protein-rich, low saturated fat seafood every week to boost heart and brain health and to enhance mood.


If you are like most Americans, you are not getting the recommended eight ounces of seafood per week. You may be missing out on an important strategy to improve your health through the food you eat. Seafood is rich in beneficial nutrients like vitamin D, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids.


Strong evidence indicates eicosapentanenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the essential omega-3 fats in fish, can boost heart health, offer protection against depression, dementia and inflammatory disorders such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.


Since there are no specific guidelines established yet to indicate how much Omega 3s we need, the American Heart Association has stepped up and recommended a total of one gram of EPA+DHA per day. The adult DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for vitamin D is 600-700 IUs and for selenium, 55 micrograms. Inadequate intake of Vitamin D is a widespread problem and increases the risk of osteoporosis, infectious diseases, heart disease, cancer and seasonal flu. Poor selenium intake is linked with autism, Alzheimer's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Eating these nutrients in food is far better than taking the supplements.


A Sea of Benefits. Here's a look at the latest evidence on seafood and health.


Heart health. Regular consumption of fish, especially fatty fish, reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 36%


Pregnancy. Omega-3s during pregnancy and breast feeding play an important role in infant brain development. Intake should be 8-10 ounces of seafood each week. Many women are confused and fearful about contamination. Benefits outweigh potential risk there. These are listed below.


Mood and Brain Health. DHA is a major structural fat in the human brain, representing about 97% of all the brain's omega 3 fats. It plays an important role in memory, brain performance, and behavioral function. The nickname "brain food" fits.


Benefits outweigh potential risks. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Harvard researchers provided a poignant example quantifying the potential health benefits versus risks of eating seafood. The study projected that if 100,000 people ate farm raised or wild salmon twice a week for 70 years, nearly 7,100 lives might be saved as a result of heart disease protection. At the same time, only 24 deaths might result due to exposure to potential contaminates. The researchers conclude that it is far riskier to avoid seafood due to fear of contamination by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), methyl mercury, or dioxins. If your body has sufficient selenium to maintain proper function, the risks for mercury are mitigated, according to the Energy & Environmental Research Center. Seafood is among 17 of the top 25 sources of dietary selenium consumed in the U.S.


Safety Exposure level for mercury is 0.1-0.4 mcg/kg of body weight/day. To determine your kilogram weight, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2.


Seafood Comparison

Fish
(4 oz)
Omega 3
(gms)
Vitamin D
(IUs)
Selenium
(mcg)
Mercury
(mcg)
Salmon
1.2 - 2.4
447
68
2
Tuna, Albacore
canned
1
154
70
40
Sardines
1.1 - 1.6
164
40 - 60
2
Shrimp
.01
172
42
0
Oysters
1.5
355
170
2


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