Two recent scientific reports, based on a comprehensive review of published science, recommend that the general population increase the amount of seafood they eat to 2 to 3 times per week. Seafood is nutrient-rich, meaning it packs healthy nutrients like omega-3s and protein into less than a couple hundred calories per 4-ounce serving.
Seafood Benefits for Adults
- Reduces Risk for Heart Disease
- Helps Maintain Brain Health
Seafood Benefits for Moms-to-Be
- Helps Prevent Depression During and After Pregnancy
- Can Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Protect Your Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in men and women in the U.S., with risk factors including diabetes, high blood cholesterol and being overweight. The good news is that you have the power to help manage these risk factors and lower your risk for heart disease by eating at least two servings of seafood a week. Low consumption of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish is the second-biggest dietary contributor to preventable deaths in the United States, taking a total of 84,000 lives each year.i In fact, eating seafood just twice a week can reduce the risk of fatal heart attack by 36 percent!ii By eating seafood, you get the essential nutrients that can help protect you against heart attacks, decrease blood triglyceride levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
Fight Depression and Accelerated Brain Aging
The omega-3s found in seafood are a key component of a brain-healthy diet. Studies have shown that people who don’t have enough omega-3s are more likely to develop depression. And, for those who have depression, studies have shown that the omega-3s, which are found in seafood, can improve the symptoms.iv
Additionally, researchers recently looked at late middle aged adults without dementia to see how the levels of omega-3s in their blood are related to signs of future dementia. Adults with the lowest amount of the fish-based omega-3, DHA, in their blood had smaller brain volumes and poorer performance in tests of visual memory; abstract thinking; and planning, organization, and carrying out of tasks than adults with higher DHA levels. The smaller brain volume from low omega-3 levels speeds up brain aging by about two years. So take control of your heart health – it’s as easy as eating 2 or 3 seafood meals each week!
Did You Know? Women are particularly at risk for heart disease, with more women dying of heart disease than men each year. In fact, more than 200,000 women die from heart attacks every year—five times the number of women who die from breast cancer.iii
Healthy Choices for Mom & Baby
Eat At Least 2 Servings of Seafood per Week to Boost Babies’ Brain Development
Choosing the right foods during pregnancy can make a big difference in your baby’s health and growth. Seafood is an essential part of a healthy diet for you and your unborn child or breastfed baby. The recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend pregnant and breastfeeding women eat 2 to 3 servings of seafood per week to improve babies’ eye and brain development. It is so important that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest pregnant and breastfeeding women should eat no less than 8 ounces (2 servings) of seafood each week.
To get the recommended amounts and the health benefits, eat a variety of seafood, which can include all types of tuna – white (albacore) and light canned tuna. Pregnant women can eat up to 6 ounces of white (albacore) tuna per week.
There are only four fish to avoid during pregnancy and breastfeeding; shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Most women in the U.S. already do not eat these types of seafood. If you are not pregnant or breastfeeding, there are no types of commercial seafood to avoid.
Besides providing healthy omega-3s, another important nutrient provided by seafood is protein. However, all protein sources aren't alike. Many high protein foods also happen to have a lot of unhealthy saturated fat and cholesterol. So when choosing which foods to eat, consider a low-calorie option such as tuna. One serving of protein-rich canned or pouch tuna is lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than an equal serving of beef, pork, chicken or lamb.
ii Horn, L. V., PhD, RD., McCoin, M., MPH, RD., Kris-Etherton, P. M., PhD, RD., Burke, F., MS, RD.,Carson, J. A. S., PhD, RD., Champagne, C. M., PhD, RD., Sikand, G., MA, RD. (2008, February). The Evidence for Dietary Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(2).
iiiLloyd-Jones D, Adams R, Brown T,. et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics 2010 Update: A Report from the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcomittee. Circulation. 2010; 121:e1-e170
iv PubMed. The efficacy of omega-3 supplementation for major depression: a randomized controlled trial. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20584525. Accessed March 6, 2012.