Last Updated on September 6, 2023
Seafood is one of the most nutritious and delicious foods on our planet. Fish and shellfish have been an important part of the human diet for thousands of years, providing high-quality protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals.
However, many people don’t consume enough seafood despite its tremendous health benefits. According to a recent survey, only 1 in 10 Americans consume the recommended two servings of seafood per week.
Let’s explore why you should eat more seafood and highlight some of the top health benefits of fish and shellfish consumption.
1. Excellent Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA have incredible health benefits, from improved cardiovascular health to better brain functioning.
Seafood is by far the best dietary source of these essential fats. One serving of fatty fish like salmon or mackerel provides over 1000 mg of omega-3s. Shellfish, white fish, and smaller oily fish like sardines are also great sources. Getting enough omega-3s from seafood has been associated with lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation, faster recovery after exercise, enhanced mood, and improved memory and cognition. For a quick way to get your omega-3s, try a salmon avocado poke bowl. But use fresh salmon and avocado.
For a gourmet meal, a stuffed salmon recipe can be a delightful way to enjoy the richness of salmon while reaping the omega-3 benefits. It’s the perfect recipe that combines salmon, crabs, and shrimp in a meal.
2. Seafood is Rich in Protein
Seafood is one of the best sources of high-quality protein available. Fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines contain about 20-25 grams of protein per 3-ounce cooked serving.
Shellfish, including shrimp, clams, mussels, and oysters, also provide 15-20 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. The protein found in seafood contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need but fail to produce on their own.
High protein intake has been proven to increase muscle mass, aid in weight loss, and reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome. For a delicious high-protein seafood meal, try making Cajun blackened salmon with a side of sautéed shrimp.
3. Rich in Essential Nutrients
In addition to protein and healthy fats, seafood contains various vitamins and minerals that many people lack in their diets. Fish and shellfish are great sources of Vitamin D, selenium, iodine, iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium.
- Vitamin D promotes bone health and immune function.
- Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant.
- Iodine supports thyroid function.
- Iron carries oxygen in the blood.
- Zinc boosts immunity.
- Magnesium aids muscle and nerve function.
- Potassium helps control blood pressure.
With such an impressive nutrient profile, adding more seafood can help fill nutritional gaps and promote overall health and well-being. Try a seafood stew loaded with clams, mussels, shrimp, and fish for an easy way to get various nutrients.
4. May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Regularly eating seafood may help reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish lower triglycerides and blood pressure, reduce inflammation, prevent erratic heart rhythms, and make blood less likely to clot.
The AHA (American Heart Association) recommends eating fish twice weekly, especially fatty fish high in omega-3s. People who eat more baked or broiled fish have healthier hearts and live longer than people who eat little or no seafood.
5. Supports Brain Health and Development
The omega-3 fats in seafood play a vital role in brain function and development. DHA is a primary structural component of our brain, retinal tissue, and nervous system. Consuming adequate DHA from seafood improves learning ability, focus, memory, and mood.
It also helps prevent cognitive decline associated with aging. Expectant mothers who eat more fish have children with better cognitive function and higher IQs.
Eating more fish can boost your mental performance at any age. For brain food, try salmon burgers or a tuna and avocado salad.
6. May Reduce the Risk of Depression
Multiple studies show people who consume the most omega-3-rich seafood have a lower risk of developing depressive symptoms and clinical depression.
Omega-3s help build healthy brain cell membranes and reduce inflammation in the brain. EPA from fish may also help regulate neurotransmitters like serotonin that influence our mood. If you’re feeling blue, eating some baked cod or seared scallops may help lift your spirits.
7. Helps Fight Inflammation
The omega-3s in seafood have powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Chronic inflammation is the culprit behind most modern diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, dementia, and cancer.
The EPA and DHA in fish inhibit inflammatory markers, reduce cytokine production, and increase antioxidant levels in the body. The selenium found in seafood also helps control inflammation.
Eating fish can help prevent systemic inflammation and lower your risk of inflammation-fueled diseases. Try salmon skewers with mango salsa or grilled shrimp tacos for an anti-inflammatory boost.
8. Good for Vision Health
Eating oily fish may help prevent vision loss and age-related eye disorders like macular degeneration and cataracts. The omega-3s in seafood provide structural support to cell membranes in the eye, while the antioxidants protect against damage from UV exposure.
Fish also contains vitamins and minerals important for ocular health, like vitamins A, C, D, and E, zinc, copper, and selenium. People who eat more seafood have a lower risk of developing vision problems.
Incorporating more seafood into your diet provides many impressive health benefits. Fish and shellfish offer high-quality protein, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, essential vitamins and minerals, and protection against many chronic diseases. Aim to eat at least two servings weekly, focusing on fatty fish like salmon, trout, and mackerel. Choose baked, grilled, or broiled cooking methods instead of fried. Try out some new seafood recipes to take advantage of the diverse flavors and textures of fish.