Best Health Benefits of Eating Seafood
Seafood is delicious and easy to prepare. We know that better than anyone else as New England natives. Eating seafood is a way of life here where there is always an abundance of fresh finfish and shellfish.
The many health benefits of regularly eating seafood make us feel even better about putting it on the dinner menu.
Here are the top 8 health reasons to eat seafood at least once or twice a week.
#1 – Seafood Is Better Than a Multi-Vitamin
The standard American diets lacks many of the essential nutrients that our bodies need to fight diseases, maintain a healthy weight, function optimally and age well. This why there has been a large rise in diet-related chronic diseases and conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity, in the U.S. A simple way to improve your health is to eat a diet that is rich in essential nutrients.
According to health experts Dr. Howard Sesso, from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dr. Clifford Lo, from the Harvard School of Public Health, getting nutrients from food is more effective than taking multi-vitamins and supplements. Regularly eating seafood, 1-2 times a week, can help you get the essential nutrients that your body needs. Both freshwater and saltwater fish are full of vital nutrients that many American’s are deficient in from vitamin D and B-complex vitamins (such as B12, B1, B3, biotin, etc.) to iodine and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
#2 – Fish Are the Best Dietary Source of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is so important that it deserves its own mention. Our bodies need vitamin D to absorb and maintain healthy levels of calcium (which protects bone health), regulate cell growth, and promote neuromuscular function. It also reduces pain and inflammation.
Unfortunately, almost half of the population in the U.S. suffers from vitamin D deficiency. A serious deficiency in vitamin D can lead to the development of osteomalacia and osteoporosis in adults and rickets in children.
The main way that our bodies get this vital nutrient is from soaking up ultraviolet ray from the sun which triggers the synthesis of vitamin D in our bodies. In states like Connecticut, where we barely see the sun for long stretches of time, it can be hard to get enough vitamin D.
Seafood is one of the only natural dietary sources of vitamin D. Salmon and herring produce the highest amounts of vitamin D. Making sure to eat vitamin D rich seafood during the winter months is the best way to keep your bones, immune system, and cells healthy.
#3 – The Nutrients in Seafood Are Essential for Pregnant Women & Developing Kids
A diet that is rich in seafood is especially beneficial for children during their development from their fetal growth through their childhood. Omega-3 fatty acids and selenium are two of the most important nutrients that pregnant women and growing children receive from seafood. Omega-3 fatty acids aid in the development of the central nervous system, improve immune function and reduce the risk that children will develop asthma, certain allergies and diabetes. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA aids in healthy brain and eye development. An antioxidant found in fish, called selenium, also boosts the immune system. Studies indicated that eating seafood during pregnancy also reduces preterm delivery and increases birth weight.
Eating a 6 ounce serving of omega-3 rich fish once or twice a week is recommended for pregnant and nursing mothers and children. It is important for expectant mothers and young children to avoid eating raw or uncooked fish (such as sushi) that may contain microorganism and fish that may contain high levels of mercury which impedes brain function and development. The best way to do this is to avoid fish that are high on the food chain such as tuna, mackerel, swordfish, northern pike, tilefish and shark.
#4 – Eating Seafood Can Improve Your Eye Sight
The omega-3 fatty acids in seafood don’t just benefit developing kids’ eyesight, they also benefit adults’ eyesight.
The leading cause of vision impairment and blindness as we age is macular degeneration. Regularly consuming fish has been linked to decreased risk of developing macular degeneration and neovascular macular degeneration in a number of studies.
Along with protecting your sight as you age, eating shellfish and finfish may also boost your night vision.
#5 – Eating Seafood Can Improve Heart Health & Decrease the Risk of Stroke, a Heart Attack & Heart Disease
Almost half of the adult population in America suffers from heart disease. Strokes and heart attacks are leading causes of premature death around the world. Large observational studies have shown that people who regularly eat fish (1 -2 servings per week) have a lower risk of suffering from a stroke or heart attack. Researchers believe that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish play a large role in reducing the risk of a stroke and heart attack and may reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids that our bodies need to function optimally. The omega-3 fatty acids that are primarily found in fish (DHA and EPA) help to reduce blood fat (triglycerides) levels in your body which contribute to stoke, heart disease and heart attacks. The best fish to eat for omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna, sardines, and lake trout. Seafood is also great for a heart healthy diet because it is low in saturated fats and high in quality protein.
#6 – A Seafood Rich Diet Can Protect Your Mind from Age-Related Decline & Alzheimer’s Disease
Studies suggest that the reason why our mental capacity declines as we age is because of the loss of grey matter in our brains. Grey matter is the primary functioning tissue in our brains that stores memory, processes information and controls our emotions. Studies have shown that eating seafood weekly increases grey matter and may reduce age-related mental decline and the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.
#7 – Regularly Eating Fish Can Help Treat & Prevent Depression
Depression is a serious mental disorder that is one of the biggest health problems around the world. It affects the quality of life of approximately 350 million people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), who suffer from a range of physical and psychological symptoms.
Several studies have shown that eating fish regularly can help to improve the symptoms of depression or increase the effectiveness of prescribed antidepressants. The antidepressant benefits of eating seafood are attributed to the omega-3 fatty acids in fish. Specific studies on the effects of omega-3 have suggested that consuming this heart-healthy fatty acid may also protect against postpartum depression.
The omega-3 fatty acids in seafood may also help to treat bipolar disorder. A small clinical study found that patients who took fish oil supplements over a 4-month period experienced less mood swings and relapses.
Eating seafood is not a cure for depression disorders or bipolar but it may help to increase the effectiveness of your treatment.
#8 – Incorporating Seafood into Your Diet Can Decrease Joint Pain & Inflammation Caused by Autoimmune Diseases
Eating seafood regularly can help to manage joint pain and inflammation. Researchers attribute these benefits to the combination of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids both of which have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects.
The anti-inflammatory effects of seafood may be especially beneficial to people who suffer from autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases cause the immune system to malfunction and attack healthy body tissues. Chronic pain from inflammation is a common symptom.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to reduced pain and inflammation for patients suffering from a number of autoimmune disorders including lupus, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease through a number of studies. Though an omega-3 rich diet does not appear to slow the progress of autoimmune disorders, it may reduce your discomfort.
It every stage of our lives, the essential nutrients in seafood benefit us in one way or another. If you are trying to make changes to your diet to improve your health, eating seafood 1-2 times a week is a great idea! If you need help picking out the healthiest choice at the fish counter, ask our seafood experts at City Fish Market! We are recognized as the best fresh fish market in Southern New England for a reason.