What’s so healthy about seafood?
Seafood is an important part of a healthy diet and becoming the food of choice for the health-conscious. Some great reasons to eat seafood are shown in the nutrition information table opposite. It’s brain food, and lots more!
In Australia we don’t eat enough seafood. The Australian Dietary Guidelines and Heart Foundation advise eating one or two fish based meals per week (a serve of fish is 80 to 120g cooked weight). However according to the last National Dietary Survey only 1 in 4 of us reported eating fish at least once a week.
“The evidence is now largely unequivocal that some fish each week is an advantage to health and longevity”.
This notion is now supported by a great deal of scientific and medical research. A good starting point to understand this information is the FRDC publication What’s so healthy about seafood?
The Omega 3 Centre
The FRDC is a member of the Omega-3 Centre. The Centre was set up and operates as a centre of excellence in Omega-3 fatty acids for Australia and New Zealand. It primary focus is on communicating the health benefits of long chain Omega-3s.
All communications from The Omega-3 Centre are based on sound science. Scientific advice will always be sought from leading researchers in the area. The Centre has a good links with a range of scientific organisations in Australia, New Zealand and internationally. The Centre acts as a catalyst for scientific research into Omega-3s and benefits for human health and it helps translate the science of Omega-3s to actions.
For more information, please visit the Omega-3 Centre website.
What are Omega-3’s?
They are essential nutrients just like the vitamins and minerals as our body cannot make them and they play many critical roles. Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat.
The Omega-3 (called ALA) found in plant sourced foods such as canola oil, linseeds and walnuts needs to be converted by the body to the long chain Omega-3s to be used effectively. Unfortunately this conversion is very inefficient so it is desirable to include long chain Omega-3s in the diet as well. These are found in oily fish, other fish and seafood and to a lesser extent in meats and eggs. Foods enriched with long chain Omega-3s are beginning to appear in supermarkets. Supplements of fish oil are rich in long chain Omega-3s.
Sources of long chain Omega-3s
Where are they found?
Oily fish, other fish and seafood are the main sources of long chain omega-3s with eggs and lean red meat providing smaller amounts. There is a vegetarian source of Omega-3 DHA, made from marine algae, which is used in a variety of omega-3 enriched foods and infant formulas. Interestingly, it is the marine algae that fish feed on which helps make them a rich source of long chain omega-3s.
How much do you need?
To prevent a deficiency of long chain Omega-3s health authorities recommend 90mg/day for women and 160mg/day for men. However, to optimise diets for lowering chronic disease risk a much higher amount is recommended:
- For women 430mg per day
- For men 610mg per day
For some health conditions (such as arthritis and high blood triglyceride levels) doctors recommend higher intakes and fish oil supplements are required.
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