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At Real Good Fish, we're passionate about all things seafood (as you may know!) But we're also really excited about the benefits of eating fresh fish and seafood for our health and wellbeing. That's why this month, we're connecting with our very own Jenn Gerard Lovewell, Registered Dietitian, and Chief Nutrition Officer, to share some of the insights into how and why fish and seafood are so healthy for us.
Hi, I'm Jenn. My husband Alan and I run Real Good Fish. I'm a mom and a Registered Dietitian specializing in sustainable food systems, and I love talking about seafood. Here's the thing—no matter what your health or environmental goals are, seafood is a perfect fit and much easier to cook at home than you might think. Not to mention, it's delicious, nutritious, and overall, we're not eating enough of it.
With Real Good Fish, we make it easy to receive these invaluable health benefits while directly supporting healthier oceans and American fishermen. Everyone wins!
Here are some of the top health reasons to consume more seafood and tips to incorporate it into your life.
You'll Live Longer
Several extensive scientific studies have shown that people who eat fish regularly (1-4 servings/week) have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes, and complications from heart disease. Omega-3 fatty acids tend to get all the attention for this, but the beneficial effects are more likely due to the synergy of a wide range of vitamins and nutrients that are abundant in fish.
You'll Get the Most Nutritional Bang for Your Buck
Seafood provides more Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D than any other food, and both are critical for ongoing health and mobility. Looking to increase or optimize your high-quality protein intake? Seafood boasts the most protein per calorie (fun fact—spinach is up there too!)
You'll Be Happier
Food plays a significant role in our physical health and our mental and emotional health too. Several studies have shown that the more fish we eat, the better we feel mentally, including helping to combat depression. The reason isn't completely understood here, but it's thought that the Omega-3's present in fish may increase blood flow to the brain and modify dopamine and serotonin—neurotransmitters that play a starring role in our mental health.
Children May Be Smarter (And Healthier)
This one is my favorite. The research is overwhelming that young seafood eaters have a lower risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, better school grades, and higher IQ by as much as 9.5 compared with peers that don't consume fish.
These benefits start in the womb, too, with a recommended fish consumption of 2-3 times a week for pregnant women.
What about mercury intake? This is understandably a concern and something that is important to understand. While this is always a personal choice, I believe in the science and the benefits of balance. You don't have to avoid higher mercury species (tuna, swordfish, and other larger fish) completely, just don't eat them all the time and balance it with a variety of lower mercury species.
Interestingly, the most thorough review on the subject revealed that no adverse effects to the fetus were found from mercury intake, even for women measuring above the EPA's reference dose.
J. Thomas Brenna, PhD, one of the study's authors states, "the risk is not eating enough seafood -- the benefits are so substantial for the development of baby brains, eyes and overall nervous system."
The most important part being -- don't let mercury concerns scare you away from consuming fish all together! Opt instead for fish species that are typically lower in mercury, things like rockfish, lingcod, sole, salmon, halibut, calamari, anchovies, sardines, pollock, and hake -- to name just a few.
It's Easy and Fun to Cook at Home & Quick to Prepare Too!
The best part of all is—seafood is delicious, incredibly versatile, and cooks up in half the time of other proteins. My best tip for preparing seafood at home? Use your thermometer (I like this kind). Once I started doing this, it was a game-changer. Seafood is highly susceptible to overcooking and so catching it at just the right temperature will create that ultra-satisfying meal you'll be proud of—every time.