I consider myself a healthy eater. Over the past few years, I lost 20 pounds following a custom 1,800-calorie “My Plan” on the USDA’s Super Tracker website. Getting those 4 daily cups of fruits and veggies, which had once been a real challenge for me, has become old hat.
Where I came up short, though, was in eating the recommended amount of seafood (8 ounces per week). Instead, I was happy to pop a fish-oil capsule, eat lots of chicken and be on my way.
But as I learned more about the health benefits of fish, I committed to eating more seafood (and these weeknight-ready recipes definitely helped).
The Health Benefits of Fish and Seafood
1. Seafood is a lean source of protein that’s low in saturated fat.
An ounce of most seafood provides about as much protein as chicken and beef (around 7 grams), while it contains less than a gram of saturated fat. Chicken—also a virtuous choice—contains 2 grams. Beef sirloin, one of the leanest beef cuts, has 3 grams of saturated fat per ounce. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a clear nutritional winner.
2. It’s a great way to show your heart some love.
Foods that are low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (the healthy kinds) can improve blood cholesterol levels by driving down the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol numbers and increasing the HDL (“good”) cholesterol. That translates to a decreased risk of developing heart disease. Oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel and sardines are especially beneficial; these top 10 salmon recipes are ones you’ll flip for.
3. Seafood is brain food.
Seafood’s omega-3 content is important not only for the developing brains of infants and children, but it can also help build new neural pathways throughout one’s lifetime. Studies indicate that a healthy diet including seafood may help fend off age-related cognitive issues such as dementia. And a diet with adequate omega-3s (specifically EPA and DHA) may also help alleviate symptoms of depression and ADHD.
Why I Eat More Seafood Now
While I used to think I could just pop a fish-oil capsule and be on my way, I’ve learned that the benefits of eating the actual food surpass what you’ll find in the vitamin aisle. When you consider seafood’s lean protein, healthy fats and the omega-3 content of various fish, it’s easy to see why we should feature it on our menus more often.
The USDA recommends 8 ounces per week for an average adult’s 2,000-calorie-per-day diet. To enjoy the health benefits of seafood, why not start here?