Fish and seafood are an important part of a healthy, balanced diet — but why exactly?
‘You are what you eat’ — the mantra of nutritionists the world over — couldn’t be more relevant today. Our fast-paced lifestyles and on-the-go eating habits can quickly become unhinged, impacting everything from our hearts, weight and mental health. That’s why fish and seafood, as excellent sources of omega-3 fats, lean protein and vitamins and minerals, are great foods for health and well being.
Seafood health benefits
Both the World Health Organisation and New Zealand Ministry of Health include fish and seafood in their official dietary recommendations. While the New Zealand Heart Foundation suggests adding two to three servings of fish to your weekly diet. This is based on research that suggests fish and seafood can improve heart health and help ward off heart disease, amongst numerous other health benefits.
Here’s what we know:
Rich in omega 3
Omega 3 fatty acids in fish can help maintain a healthy heartbeat, help to reduce levels of problem causing fats that cause blockages, improve blood vessel function, and can also lower cholesterol and assist in lowering blood pressure.
High quality protein
Seafood is a fantastic source of quality protein and includes all essential amino acids. The body uses protein for muscle growth, repair and maintenance, and seafood is a heart-healthy alternative to red meats.
Low in sodium
While high in protein and omega 3, seafood is low in sodium. Switching a high-salt processed meal out for a seafood dish can assist in lowering your cholesterol and its impact on heart health.
Rich in vitamins
Fish is a natural source of B-complex vitamins, as well as vitamin A and D. B-complex vitamins contribute to overall body function and help prevent infections. Vitamin A is needed for vision, growth, reproduction and immunity while vitamin D helps keep bones strong.
A heart health diet
Greece, Italy and Japan — all beautiful countries, but also home to some of the oldest living populations in the world. What do they have in common? They’re all seafood loving peoples surrounded by water. Sound familiar?
Of course fish and seafood are only one part of a healthy and balanced diet. According to the New Zealand Heart Foundation, a healthy meal can be made up from the following parts:
- colourful non-starchy vegetables and/or fruit.
- grain foods or starchy vegetables – these include whole grain bread, oats, barley, brown rice, pasta, quinoa, potato, taro, kūmara, corn, cassava or green banana.
- legumes, fish, seafood, eggs, skinned poultry and lean meat; reduced-fat milk or milk products.
- healthy vegetable oils, nuts, seeds or avocado. Alternative spreads include hummus, pesto or margarine spread.
- flavourings are optional – herbs, spices are your best choice to add flavour as they don’t usually include any added sugar or salt.
Fish is delicious, easy and quick to prepare and there are numerous ways you can bring it into your weekly diet. For fish and seafood eating inspiration head over to our recipe page here.