Set Your Nutrition Sights On SeafoodMar 09, 2016
As a registered dietitian, I see many Oklahomans who are diagnosed with, and deal with preventable diseases every day. These preventable illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and stroke can be countered considerably through healthy lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise.
One solution for preventable diseases that is largely overlooked and undervalued for our overall health is the tremendous benefit of Omega-3 fatty acids in our diets. Seafood is the primary food source from which Omega-3 can be received. Fish and other forms of seafood also contain vital nutrients including protein and vitamins and minerals such as iron, which make it a nutritional powerhouse for consumers to incorporate into their diets.
Promoting a better diet is part of the solution to address our nutritional issues – and fish can be the answer. The powerful benefits of Omega-3 in seafood for heart health are backed by science. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eating seafood just twice a week can reduce a person’s heart disease risk by more than 36 percent. In fact, the USDA estimates that 50,000 people avoid stroke or heart disease each year just by eating seafood as recommended. But right now, however, only 10% of Americans eat the recommended two servings of seafood a week.
People of all ages can benefit from increased seafood consumption for their weekly diet. For instance, seniors who want to protect their brains and stay mentally sharp are advised to eat seafood for the benefits that the Omega-3s provide. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine recently released results showing regularly eating fish helps to protect brain areas responsible for memory and cognition in elderly individuals.
Not only can seniors benefit from seafood consumption but mothers-to-be can also see increased positive results for themselves and their children. Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Pregnancy Association advise that women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or plan on becoming pregnant consume more fish. Moms-to-be who eat seafood two or more times a week have babies with better outcomes including improved brain and eye health, and their baby’s IQ is on average 5.8+ points higher. It's a win-win for the mother and child.
The science backing the benefits of seafood speaks for itself, and increasing Omega-3 fatty acid consumption can be the answer for a variety of health concerns for people of all ages. Although Oklahoma isn’t a coastal state, we have the same access to the fresh seafood that comes from these states and from around the world. But you don’t have to limit your consumption to just fresh seafood selections. Whether you choose fresh, frozen or canned seafood, you can still reap the healthy benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids no matter your preference or budget. Regardless, if you're 1 or 100, raising your Omega-3 levels and improving your health can be attainable goals to continually strive for. It's up to us to create a heart-healthier Oklahoma for today's communities and our future generations and it can start with you.