Eating seafood twice a week contributes to a healthier diet and can play an important role in improving the health of Canadians of all ages. That’s why public health officials, such as the Health Canada, recommend eating seafood twice a week as part of a healthy diet.
Farmed and wild fish offer the same health benefits, so you can feel good about choosing either. Farmed seafood has the additional benefit of being available fresh, year-round states the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA). Here’s why
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Oily fish – such as salmon and trout – are one of the best sources of DHA and EPA Omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients for health. Humans need omega-3 fatty acids for numerous normal body functions, such as controlling blood clotting and building cell membranes in the brain. Since the human body cannot make omega-3 fats, we must get them through food.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with many health benefits, including protection against heart disease and possibly stroke. New studies are identifying potential benefits for a wide range of conditions including cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and other autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
REDUCED RISK OF STROKE AND HEART ATTACK
Omega-3 fatty acids are important components of the brain and nerves. Eating fish may therefore be favorable for optimal brain function. A study at the Rush Institute for Healthy Aging revealed that consumption of fish once a week among people aged 65-94 reduced the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease by 60%, compared to those who rarely or never ate fish.
RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS AND OTHER AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES
Omega-3 fatty acids from seafood play a powerful role in modulating immune function. Omega-3’s are beneficial in the management of inflammation, joint pain and auto-immune diseases – such as arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and lupus erythematosus.
AN IMPORTANT NUTRITION COMPONENT FOR UNBORN AND BREAST-FED BABIES
Seafood consumption during pregnancy and lactation may have a range of benefits. Getting enough omega-3’s is needed to build a developing child’s nervous system. DHA, one of the types of omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, is critical for normal eye and vision development in infants. Other studies suggest that omega-3’s improve cognitive development. These positive effects persist beyond infancy to influence cognition in later childhood. A 2006 study by Harvard researchers indicated that infants could obtain the benefit of omega-3’s from pregnant or nursing mothers who consumed fish.
A large-scale study by Dr. Joseph Hibbeln, chief of the outpatient clinic at The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, showed a connection between people in countries that consume large amounts of fish and low rates of depression. A more specific study by Dr. Andrew Stall at McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA, focused on patients with bipolar disorder. Half of the subjects were given fish oil tablets while the other half received a placebo. After four months, half of the placebo patients had relapsed into depression while only two of the 15 fish oil patients had relapsed.
HOW MUCH OMEGA-3 PROVIDES BENEFITS?
Canada’s Food Guide advises Canadians to eat at least two 150 gram servings of fish every week – especially the kinds that are highest in omega-3 fats such as farmed salmon and trout. These recommendations are consistent with advice by experts around the world. – Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance (CAIA)