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The Amazing Health-Based Benefits of Eating Seafood

The following content is provided by our Chief Dietician Melanie Jatsek, RD/LD. 

Did you know that human beings evolved on a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild fish and grass-fed animals? Today, due to our overwhelming reliance on processed food, we are consuming way fewer omega-3 fatty acids, while overdosing on omega-6 fatty acids.

What does this mean for your health?

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fats because your body can’t make them, which means you must get them through food or supplementation. Omega-3 fats—found in seafood and certain plants—have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, while omega-6 fats tend to be pro-inflammatory.

When eaten in the form of nuts, seeds, and eggs, omega-6 fats promote health. Omega-6 fatty acids are also found in cereal grains and refined vegetable oils, common ingredients in processed food. So, if you live on a steady diet of convenience food, you are unknowingly consuming way more omega-6 fats than you should.

Besides loading up on nutrient-dense Superfoods, there’s another powerful step you can take to reclaim control over your health: Eat more seafood!

Seafood is a superior source of various nutrients, such as protein, amino acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The real star player, however, is omega-3 fatty acids.

Forms of omega-3 fatty acids

There are three forms of omega-3 fatty acids in food:

  1. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
  2. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

ALA:

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.

EPA & DHA:

The positive effects of seafood have primarily been attributed to EPA and DHA. These omega-3 fats can potentially benefit your health in the following ways:

  • Lower triglyceride levels: triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood. High levels are a major risk factor for heart disease.
  • Raise 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.
  • Prevent blood clots.
  • Improve the health of your skin.
  • Reduce chronic inflammation.
  • A healthy brain: 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 blood sugar levels.

Although most fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, these particular fatty fish contain the highest amount of EPA & DHA:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel

For positive health benefits, aim for two to three, 4-ounce servings of fatty fish per week.

Melanie Jatsek
By Melanie Jatsek RD, LD
Heinen’s Chief Dietitian, Melanie Jatsek believes that the answer to a strong, healthy and vibrant body lies within. She graduated cum laude from the University of Akron, earning a degree in Nutrition & Dietetics and has over 20 years of experience in wellness program development, health coaching and professional speaking. As a published author of three books and registered dietitian for Heinen’s Grocery Store, Melanie offers programs, services, and tools to help Heinen’s customers take inspired action to build the healthy body they were meant to live in…without giving up their favorite foods.

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