Traditionally, seafood was consumed on Good Friday in place of other meat. Though over the years this seems to have fallen by the wayside.
Fish and other seafood are highly beneficial to our health, so perhaps it’s time to revisit the tradition and bring back fish on Fridays. Here are 10 good reasons why!
- Seafood is highly nutritious. It’s low in unhealthy saturated fat and high in protein, making it a smart choice for weight control. Seafood also contains many others nutrients, such as Iodine (essential for maintaining thyroid gland function), Selenium and Zinc (both important for cell protection and growth).
- Many essential nutrients are found in seafood, including Omega-3 fats. Two Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Our bodies don't produce Omega-3 fatty acids so we must get them through the food we eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish, but are especially high in fatty fish. Omega-3s are very important for heart health by lowering unhealthy levels of fat (triglycerides) in the blood, potentially reducing blood clotting that can lead to thrombosis, regulating heartbeat and helping to control blood pressure.
- Despite what you may have heard, you don’t need to avoid seafood if you’re concerned about high levels of cholesterol. Though some seafood, namely crustaceans and molluscs like oysters and calamari, contain some cholesterol, dietary cholesterol has little bearing on our blood cholesterol levels.
- Omega-3s may prevent inflammation and reduce the risk of conditions like arthritis, in which swelling of the joints results in considerable discomfort. Research has shown a link between Omega-3 consumption and the preventive and therapeutic treatment of both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Even though the therapeutic dose may be more than what we can easily consume through diet, keeping up your intake of oily fish can help.
- Eating foods rich in Omegas-3s is vital during pregnancy to ensure proper foetal growth and development, particularly of the brain and eyes. Research has also shown fish consumption in pregnancy may reduce the risk of premature births.
- Over 50% of the human brain is composed of fat – a large portion of which is Omega-3 fatty acids. It’s no surprise then that seafood, especially oily fish consumption, is associated with positive brain health. It’s been shown that those who consume greater amounts of seafood are less likely to suffer from mood and cognitive disorders such as depression, memory loss and Alzheimer’s.
- There is a huge range of options when it comes to seafood. Oily fish like salmon, mackerel and oysters contain the greatest levels of Omega-3, while white fish like snapper and whiting are extremely low in fat, with comparable protein levels to red meat. Shellfish like mussels, prawns and oysters are an excellent source of minerals like Iodine and Zinc, and contain greater levels of Iron and Vitamin B12 than beef.
- Incorporating seafood into your diet can be no-fuss and cost effective. Prawns and calamari can be simply marinated in olive oil, garlic and lemon juice before skewering and grilled, great for an autumn barbecue. For an easy lunch, try canned fish like tuna or salmon – which, when bones are included, contain the added benefit of calcium for strong bones and teeth.
- By eating fish 2-3 times per week, as is typically recommended, you may be having a really positive impact on your health. And with so many ways to enjoy seafood - baked, grilled, barbecued, poached, stir-fried and steamed – the possibilities are endless.
- And if you’re not a seafood lover, or have a seafood allergy, you can still reach the recommended 500mg of Omega-3 per day. Small amounts of Omega-3 are found in foods like lean beef or lamb, as well as Omega-3 enriched milk, bread and eggs. Plant based Omega-3 can also be found in nuts and seeds (especially walnuts), flaxseeds, and spreads derived from soybean or canola. If you’re still concerned that you’re not reaching the recommended amounts, you could include a fish oil supplement in your diet. Look for one that contains the highest levels of Omega-3, at least 500mg in a daily dose.
This Easter, Aussie Farmers Direct will be delivering a range of freshly caught seafood. To enjoy a wholly Australian Easter this year, visit AussieFarmers.com.au