Seafood is an excellent low-calorie, high-protein food that promotes good heart health. According to the California Seafood Council, seafood is also low in saturated fat, rich in vitamins and minerals, low in sodium and relatively easy to digest. If you're dieting or you want to make healthier decisions when it comes to the foods you eat, it's important to understand what nutritional value seafood offers.
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Fish is an excellent source of protein and its low-calorie content makes it a healthier alternative to red meats or poultry. The body uses protein to grow, maintain and repair cellular tissue. According to the California Seafood Council, the best seafood sources of protein include bluefin tuna, squid, shrimp, shrimp, halibut and shark. A 3 oz. cooked serving of any of these offers 49 percent to 60 percent of the recommended daily value for protein.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Seafood is high in a number of vitamins and minerals. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, certain varieties of seafood are excellent sources of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium and iron. For example, eating 12 small clams offers 30 percent of the recommended daily value for iron, 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin A and 8 percent of the daily value for calcium.
Fish are also high in omega-3s, a healthy type of fat. According to Alaska Seafood, omega-3s are responsible for decreasing cholesterol, reducing the risk of blood clots and reducing constriction and plaque buildup in the arteries. All types of fish include some amount of omega-3s. Those that offer the highest concentration include trout, wild and farm-raised salmon, sardines, mackerel, oysters, albacore tuna and anchovies..
Eating seafood offers many health benefits. According to the California Seafood Council, research suggests that eating two to three servings of fish per week reduces your risk for having a stroke or heart attack. This is largely because of the effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating seafood regularly can also potentially lower your risk for developing colon, breast or prostate cancer. Pregnant women can also benefit from the high levels of protein, zinc and iron found in seafood.
One of the primary considerations when eating seafood is to pay attention to how it's prepared. The California Seafood Council advises you to avoid eating raw or undercooked seafood or shellfish. Pregnant women are encouraged to limit their intake of swordfish, shark and tuna to once per month and to avoid eating recreationally-caught freshwater fish. Seafood consumption in general should be limited to two to three 3 times per week to avoid the risk of increased mercury levels.