Filed under: Omega-3
Seafood is a good source of protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients that can boost your heart health and performance. It also might reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, and even depression.
Aim for two 4-oz servings each week. It can be as easy as opening a can of tuna, sardines, or salmon or thawing a bag of shrimp or fillets. Select fresh when possible, but frozen and canned varieties are often cheaper and more convenient. By varying your choices, you can fit seafood in your budget and find new kinds to enjoy. Remember: If it’s already in your pantry or freezer, chances are you’ll eat it more often!
- Choose from several varieties. These include fish fillets, shellfish (such as crab, shrimp, and lobster), oysters, mussels, and clams. Fatty fish—rich in omega-3s that boost heart health—include salmon, mackerel, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna. Select shrimp or a mild-tasting fish such as tilapia or flounder if you’re eating seafood for the first time. In addition, young children and women who are pregnant or nursing should consume fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.
- Make it lean. Grill, broil, or bake your seafood instead of breading and frying it. Experiment with different spices and herbs too.
- Cook once and eat twice. Use leftovers to top salads, fill tacos, or toss with whole-wheat pasta. Here are a few quick recipes: Add one cup of fresh or frozen corn to your favorite seafood chowder for an easy meal. Or mix one egg, 2½ cups prepared mashed potatoes, 1 Tbsp parsley (chopped), and ½ cup green onions (chopped). Add 14½ oz canned salmon (drained and flaked). Hint: Use a fork to crush the salmon bones for an extra boost of calcium! Mold into 8 patties, dip in bread crumbs or panko, and cook in a nonstick pan until golden.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain development and function, but they also may help protect against damage from concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Several animal studies have shown that omega-3 supplements given before or after a traumatic event not only reduce the severity of damage in certain parts of the brain but also improve mental performance during recovery. Similar studies haven’t been completed with humans yet, and although the results of these animal studies are promising, there isn’t enough current evidence to recommend taking omega-3 or fish oil supplements to reduce the risk of or assist in the recovery from concussions or TBIs. In addition, FDA has warned consumers to avoid using products marketed for these purposes. For more information, please read FDA’s Consumer Update.
Although omega-3 supplements haven’t been proven to help with TBIs, omega-3s are still important for your brain, heart, and overall health. It’s best to get your omega-3s from food, but if you choose to take supplements, do so under the supervision of your doctor. For more information on omega-3 supplements, please visit “Omega-3 Supplements: In Depth” from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Omega-3 fatty acids make up a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are important to our health, and since our bodies can’t make them, we need to obtain them from the foods we eat. Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease and play an important role in our cell membranes. So, eating more can benefit the body in many ways.
The most widely available dietary source of EPA and DHA is cold-water oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. Other oily fish such as tuna also contains omega-3 fatty acids but in lesser amounts. Some other sources of ALA are walnuts and canola, soybean, flaxseed/linseed, and olive oils. For additional information, including health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, read this fact sheet; and for omega-3 content in various foods, try this infosheet from HPRC.