Seafood is a superior source of various nutrients such as amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. The real star player however, is omega-3 fatty acids—an essential fat which has an anti-inflammatory effect in the body.
According to the Global Journal of Health Science, nutrients and other bioactive components (i.e. omega-3 fatty acids) derived from fish and marine organisms may become functional food ingredients that have medical characteristics and provide health benefits.
Forms of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There are three forms of omega-3 fatty acids in food:
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
EPA & DHA:
The positive effects of seafood have primarily been attributed to EPA and DHA. These omega-3 fats benefit your body by supporting:
- Lower triglyceride levels: triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. High levels are a major risk factor for heart disease.
- Higher HDL cholesterol: HDL (high density lipoprotein) is also known as your “good” cholesterol because it removes other forms of cholesterol from your bloodstream. Higher levels of HDL are linked with a lower risk of heart disease.
- Lower risks of cancer
- Lower blood pressure
- Prevention of blood clots
- Improved skin health
- Reduction in chronic inflammation—which is the driving force behind many diseases
- Brain health: DHA is a component of every cell in your body, including your brain cells! It can improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and age-related mental decline.
- Improved insulin sensitivity and healthier blood sugar levels
To get more omega-3s in your diet, enjoy up to four ounces of any of these fatty fish:
ALA is found in plant-based foods like walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and leafy veggies. Because they can’t be fully converted into DHA and EPA, omega-3s from plants do not offer the same powerful benefits as those found in marine life. By all means, if you enjoy these plant sources of omega-3s, please continue adding them to your meals because they are in fact Superfoods and will benefit your health in many ways.
If you don’t eat fish on a regular basis, you may want to consider taking an algae-based DHA supplement. Nutritional Roots Omega-3 DHA + EPA spray is produced from sustainably harvested algae so it’s vegan friendly with no fishy aftertaste.
Individuals with heart disease, depression, anxiety, or cancer may benefit from higher doses than noted above, but of course you always want to consult with your healthcare provider before starting any supplement regimen.
Easy Ways to Incorporate Fish Into Your Meals
- Enjoy the mild flavor of baked cod, a flaky white fish that can be purchased fresh or frozen. Check out this week’s feature recipe for Roasted Cod with Kale Pesto!
- Sear salmon in a cast-iron skillet and serve with a spoonful of bruschetta. Try this 20-minute recipe for Balsamic Bruschetta Salmon.
- Brush fresh tuna with olive oil and grill over high heat for 4-6 minutes per side. Serve over a bed of romaine lettuce with olives, roasted peppers and hard-boiled eggs for an easy salad Niçoise. Check out this recipe for Niçoise Salad with Hawaiian Tuna.
Food for Thought …
In most cases, frozen fish is less expensive than fresh. It’s also a great option for stocking your freezer to ensure you’ll always have it on hand when you need it. Frozen fish is major win for sustainability too! It decreases waste, takes advantage of seasonal catches and spreads availability throughout the year. The advances in rapid deep-freeze technologies at lower temperatures allows you to purchase fish that is frozen within hours of being harvested. Be sure to check out Heinen’s line of wild caught, chemical-free, and sustainably sourced frozen cod, tuna, and salmon!