If getting healthy is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, start eating more seafood. Mr Roy Palmer, the Australian link in a worldwide network researching and communicating information on the health benefits of seafood, said seafood was recognised as a genuine health food capable of curing, easing or avoiding a long and growing list of ailments.
“Boosting your seafood consumption is the ideal way to boost your health,” Mr Palmer said today. “Everyone should be eating a seafood meal at least two to three times a week. That’s the ideal way to be healthier in 2008.”Mr Palmer said medical science strongly supported a positive role for seafood in avoiding health problems like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, diabetes, bowel cancer, pancreatic cancer, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and depression, and there was also evidence for a benefit in infant brain development, intelligence and sight, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“Seafood is a great source of high-quality protein, low in saturated fat, and rich in vitamins and minerals,” he said. “Eating more seafood makes a positive contribution to your health by providing lean protein and fish oil (Omega-3), as well as nutrients like iodine, zinc, Vitamin D and selenium. Eating a meal of seafood also means you are consuming one less meal of an alternative protein that might be high in unhealthy saturated fat. You win both ways.
Mr Palmer said the best way to benefit from seafood was to eat two or three seafood meals every week but more was better.
“In 2006, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) convened a panel of experts who recommended eating seafood four to seven times a week to maximise health benefits.
“Early in 2007, the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston conducted what it described as the single most comprehensive analysis to date of fish and health and it led one to comment that ‘seafood is likely the single most important food one can consume for good health’. The results showed eating even two meals of fish a week reduced the risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD) by 36% total deaths from any cause by 17%. That’s remarkable.
“In recent months, Professor Michael Crawford, Director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry & Human Nutrition at London’s Metropolitan University, described worsening mental health problems in Europe as ‘a disaster’ and recommended increasing consumption of seafood as one way to reverse the trend.
“Dr Steven Otwell, Professor of Food Science & Human Nutrition at Florida University, has said consumers worldwide should be educated to increase their consumption of seafood because so much good research had affirmed the health benefits of seafood.
“And Dr Alex Richardson, from the Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics at the University of Oxford, has said eating more seafood can help with management of childhood behaviour disorders., including dyspraxia, dyslexia or ADHD by improving their attention, concentration and behaviour.
“She says that dyslexia, dyspraxia, autistic spectrum disorders, ADHD and depression are all on the increase in the western world – and a general lack of Omega-3 in the diet is one possible reason. Dr Richardson advises parents that getting Omega-3 from foods is the preferred route, and that means eating plenty of fish and seafood on a regular basis, at least twice a week.”
Mr Palmer said ongoing research was producing promising leads to a range of other health benefits of seafood or firming up the results of work conducted previously.
“In recent weeks, researchers at Laval University in Quebec, Canada have released research results showing two serves of fish a week could protect you from developing Parkinson’s disease, and Australian researchers told an international psychiatry conference that Omega-3 oil from fish might lessen the chance of young people developing schizophrenia.
“Then other research teams published results of studies that said eating more fish reduces the risk of suffering Alzheimer’s disease and that a diet rich in Omega-3 oils, found most abundantly in fish and other seafood, can cut the chances of at-risk children actually developing type-1 diabetes by more than half.”
Mr Palmer said the evidence in favour of the health benefits of seafood from research conducted round the world was overwhelming.
“What all these medial researchers have in common is an interest in reducing disease and improving health,” he said. “None of them works for the seafood industry but all are recommending increased seafood consumption.
“Eating more seafood would be the most cost efficient way to improve your health imaginable. You don’t have to get a prescription or pay for drugs, just switch to seafood for an extra couple of meals a week, for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”
And what varieties of seafood?
“Although all fish are comparatively low in fat, the oilier or fattier varieties of fish carry higher levels of fish oil, Omega-3, which is one of the factors that make seafood so healthy. Those varieties of fish include Mackerels, Sardines, Atlantic Salmon, Ocean Run Rainbow Trout,. Tuna and Herring, etcetera, but the best idea is to eat a wide range of different seafood varieties.
“We are so lucky that in most parts of Australia you could eat three different species a week, every week, and not necessarily eat the same species twice in a year. The flavour, texture, colour and shape are diverse, so give them all a try.”
FURTHER INFORMATION: Mr Roy Palmer 0419 528 733
Roy Palmer is one of Australia’s best known seafood experts. A former specialist fishmonger, his current roles include Chair of the Australian Fish Names Committee, which has just completed six years’ hard work to produce the Australian Fish Names Standard for a total of 4,500 varieties of seafood, and head of Seafood Services Australia’s Global Seafood for Health Network, specialists round the world who research and communicate information on the health benefits of seafood.
Also see the Seafood Services Australia website at www.seafood.net.au