Seafood

Seafood is a high-protein food that is low in calories, total fat, and saturated fat. High in vitamins and minerals, seafood has been shown to have numerous health benefits. For example, recent studies have shown that eating seafood can decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, and hypertension. Seafood also provides essential nutrients for developing infants and children.

Calories and Protein
Seafood is generally considered to be a low-calorie protein source. Most low-fat species of fish, such as cod, flounder and sole, contain less than 100 calories per 3-ounce cooked portion, and even fattier fish like mackerel, herring, and salmon have about 200 calories per serving. Seafood is a complete protein source. It contains enough of the essential amino acids to assure healthy growth and optimal fetal development. A 3-ounce serving of most fish and shellfish provides about about 30-40% of the average daily recommended amount of protein. The protein in seafood is easier to digest because seafood has less connective tissue than red meats and poultry.

Fat and Cholesterol
Seafood is generally considered to be low in total fat and saturated fat. Most fish and shellfish contain less than 5 percent total fat, and even the fattiest fish, such as mackerel and king salmon, have no more than 15 percent fat. A large proportion of the fat in seafood is polyunsaturated, including omega-3 fatty acids, which have added health benefits.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are required for healthy human development. These organic compounds cannot be produced by the human body and therefore need to be obtained through food. Scientific evidence suggests that the marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can help reduce the risk of heart disease and contribute to brain and vision development in infants. Fish and shellfish are the main dietary sources of EPA and DHA. The plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is a precursor to EPA and DHA and is only converted at rates of about 0.1-9% in the human body. The American Heart Association recommends 1000 milligrams (mg) of EPA/DHA per day for patients with coronary heart disease, and two meals of oily fish per week for patients without heart disease. Fish with medium to high levels of omega-3 fatty acids include oily ocean fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines (see Description of Omega-3’s and Their Role in Human Health).
Cholesterol is present at varying amounts in most animal foods. Current dietary recommendations suggest limiting cholesterol intake to 300 mg per day. Almost all fish and shellfish contain well under 100 mg of cholesterol per 3-ounce cooked serving, and many of the leaner types of fish have less than 60 mg.

Vitamins and Minerals
Fish is a natural source of B-complex vitamins, vitamin D and vitamin A (especially oily fish). B-complex vitamins have been associated with healthy development of the nervous system. Vitamin A is needed for healthy vision as well as for healthy skin, while vitamin D is essential in bone development.
Fish is also a good source of minerals such as selenium, zinc, iodine and iron. Selenium is a potent antioxidant that protects against cell damage and may help to counter the negative effects of mercury. Zinc is needed for cell growth and immune system health. Iodine helps maintain thyroid gland function, while iron is important in red blood cell production. Small fish eaten whole, such as sardines and anchovies, are an important source of calcium needed for bone development.
Health Benefits linked to Seafood

Heart
Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease
Helps protect against heart attack and sudden death
Decreases risk of heart arrhythmias
Decreases blood triglyceride levels
Increases HDL (good) cholesterol
Improves circulation
Brain
Contributes to neurological development in infants
Eyes
Contributes to vision development and nerve growth in the retina
Muscles
Helps build muscles and tissues

Omega-3 fatty acids are a unique type of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid. Fatty acids have a skeleton which consists of a long chain of carbon atoms. Saturated fatty acids have no double bond in their carbon chain. Monounsaturated fatty acids have one double bond in the carbon chain and polyunsaturated fatty acids have several double bond. Omega-3 fatty acids have first double bond at the third carbon in the carbon chain. This distinguishes them from the omega-6 fatty acids of vegetable oils in which this first double bond is at the sixth carbon. Seafood is the richest dietary source of the long chain omega-3 fatty acids.
There are two main omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood and aquatic organisms, eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA and docosahexaenoic acid or DHA. These are the two omega-3 fatty acids that are believed to be responsible for the health benefits of fish oils, and they are found almost exclusively in seafood. Another omega-3 fatty acid, called alpha linoleic acid or ALA, is found in soybean oil, leafy plants and nuts in small amounts. Although the human body can convert ALA to the more metabolically active EPA and DHA, this process is very inefficient with conversion rates in the range of 0.1% to 9%.
Biochemical and clinical studies have demonstrated that omega-3 fatty acids may affect several biochemical processes which are involved in the development of atherosclerosis and heart disease. These processes relate to blood clotting and platelet “stickiness” and changes in blood lipid levels after omega-3 fatty acid intake is increased. Research has also shown that populations with high dietary intakes and tissue levels of omega-3 fatty acids have a low incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Research has also demonstrated that dietary omega-3 fatty acids play a significant role in the growth and development of a fetus and of infants and children. Omega-3s are believed to play an important role in the neurological development of infants and contribute to vision development and nerve growth in the retina. Researchers are also investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on other metabolic processes. The diverse disorders in which dietary omega-3s may play a role include: arthritis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory diseases, psoriasis, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Omega-3 Content of Frequently Consumed Seafood Products

SEAFOOD PRODUCT

OMEGA-3s PER 3 OUNCE COOKED PORTION
Herring, Wild (Atlantic & Pacific)
♥♥♥♥♥
>1,500 milligrams
Salmon, Farmed (Atlantic)
♥♥♥♥♥
Salmon, Wild (King)
♥♥♥♥♥
Mackerel, Wild (Pacific & Jack)
♥♥♥♥♥

SEAFOOD PRODUCT

OMEGA-3s PER 3 OUNCE COOKED PORTION
Salmon, Canned (Pink, Sockeye & Chum)
♥♥♥♥
1,000 to 1,500 milligrams
Mackerel, Canned (Jack)
♥♥♥♥
Mackerel, Wild (Atlantic & Spanish)
♥♥♥♥
Tuna, Wild (Bluefin)
♥♥♥♥

SEAFOOD PRODUCT

OMEGA-3s PER 3 OUNCE COOKED PORTION
Salmon, Wild (Sockeye, Coho, Chum & Pink)
♥♥♥
500 to 1,000 milligrams
Sardines, Canned
♥♥♥
Tuna, Canned (White Albacore)
♥♥♥
Swordfish, Wild
♥♥♥
Trout, Farmed (Rainbow)
♥♥♥
Oysters, Wild & Farmed
♥♥♥
Mussels, Wild & Farmed
♥♥♥

SEAFOOD PRODUCT

OMEGA-3s PER 3 OUNCE COOKED PORTION
Tuna, Canned (Light)
♥♥
200 to 500 milligrams
Tuna, Wild (Skipjack)
♥♥
Pollock, Wild (Alaskan)
♥♥
Rockfish, Wild (Pacific)
♥♥
Clams, Wild & Farmed
♥♥
Crab, Wild (King, Dungeness & Snow)
♥♥
Lobster, Wild (Spiny)
♥♥
Snapper, Wild
♥♥
Grouper, Wild
♥♥
Flounder/Sole, Wild
♥♥
Halibut, Wild (Pacific & Atlantic)
♥♥
Ocean Perch, Wild
♥♥
Squid, Wild (Fried)
♥♥
Fish Sticks (Breaded)
♥♥

SEAFOOD PRODUCT

OMEGA-3s PER 3 OUNCE COOKED PORTION
Scallops, Wild

< 200 milligrams
Shrimp, Wild & Farmed

Lobster, Wild (Northern)

Crab, Wild (Blue)

Cod, Wild

Haddock, Wild

Tilapia, Farmed

Catfish, Farmed

Mahimahi, Wild

Tuna, Wild (Yellowfin)

Orange Roughy, Wild

Surimi Product (Imitation Crab)

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