Eat two portions ofseafood a week

The UK government advice is to eat two portions of seafood a week, one of which should be oily. That’s because seafood is really good for you, and contains many vitamins and minerals that the body needs to function properly.

A great source ofprotein

Seafood is a great source of protein: a portion of seafood would typically provide you with around half of your protein requirement for the day.

Protein is essential for the growth and maintenance of muscles and body tissues.

Low insaturated fat

We all need fat in our diet, but too much of a particular kind of fat (saturated fat) can raise cholesterol, increasing the risk of heart disease. Therefore we should try to cut down on foods that are high in saturated fat. This doesn’t mean all fat is bad; we need some fat in our diet because it helps the body absorb certain nutrients. Fat also gives us energy and provides some essential fatty acids that the body can’t make itself.

Seafood is generally lower in saturated fat than other proteins, so eating more fish is a great way to help reduce your saturated fat intake. Another way to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet is to grill, bake, poach or steam your seafood wherever possible instead of using the frying pan.

Fish containsvitamins & minerals

The body needs many different vitamins and minerals to work properly. Therefore, the more varied you make your diet, the more likely you are to get all the nutrients your body needs. Different seafood has a variety of different nutrients. So why not try some of the different fish and seafood Young’s has to offer…

Iron – Seafood is a great source of vitamins A, D, E and the B vitamins.
Iron is an important mineral that helps to make red blood cells which transport the oxygen around the body. A lack of iron in the body can cause you to feel weak and tired. Seafood generally contains less iron than red meat. However, the iron in white fish is well absorbed making this a good choice, and shellfish contains as much iron as some lean meat.

Calcium – There is more calcium in the body than any other mineral and it has many important functions. These include helping to build strong bones and teeth and ensuring that blood clots normally. Small fish like sardines contain small bones that can be eaten, and are a very rich source of calcium.

Selenium – Seafood is a particularly good source of selenium, which plays an important role in our immune system’s function and reproduction. It also helps prevent damage to cells and tissues.

Iodine – Iodine is needed to make thyroid hormones, which control many of the body’s processes. Iodine is also needed for energy metabolism, so a lack of iodine can make you feel lethargic. Seafood is one of the few reliable sources of iodine, and can often provide a significant proportion of your recommended daily intake.

Zinc – Zinc has several important functions within the body, it helps the body to make new cells; it helps the body to process carbohydrate, fats and proteins in food and it helps with the healing of wounds. High protein foods such as meat and fish contain the highest amount of Zinc. Oysters provide more zinc than any other food. Other types of seafood that provide a significant amount of zinc include skate, anchovies, herring, sardines, crab, prawns, shrimps, mussels, and winkles.

Vitamins – There are lots of different types of vitamins that help the body in many different ways.

Vitamin A – helps the immune system to work against infections and also helps to aid vision in dim light and to keep skin healthy.

Vitamin D – helps the body to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – and is essential for bone health.

Vitamin E – acts as an antioxidant, which protects cell membranes, helping to maintain healthy skin and eyes and strengthening the immune system.

B vitamins – help to break down and release energy from food and help to maintain healthy skin and eyes.

Seafood is a great source of vitamins A, D, E and the B vitamins. Oily fish is a better source of fat soluble vitamins (A, D and E) and is also the best natural source of vitamin D, which is not found in many foods.

Guide to Omega 3

The body needs two types of unsaturated fat in particular that the body cannot make itself, and that we must obtain from our diet:

  • Linoleic acid: a type of omega-6 oil
  • Alpha linolenic acid: a type of omega-3 oil

Oily fish is a source of both of these essential fatty acids.

The significant health benefits of Omega 3 are now widely recognised. The earliest evidence of their benefits came from observations of the long life and absence of heart disease noted amongst those with a high-fish diet, such as Danish, Inuit and many Mediterranean people.

Other research relating to Omega 3 relates to benefits in combating heart disease, and many studies have demonstrated that Omega 3 can make a vital dietary contribution at every stage of human life.

Some of the key health benefits thought to be associated with Omega 3 include:

  • Heart health – In October 2003, the Joint Health Claims Initiative (JHCI) approved the claim that increased consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids from seafood helps heart health.
  • Autoimmune diseases – fish oils are believed to be therapeutic for autoimmune disease (lupus and certain kidney disorder), Crohn’s disease and inflammatory skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis.
  • Brain and mind – studies by John Stein, professor of neurophysiology at Oxford have suggested that Omega 3 fish oils are good for the brain, in the treatment of dyslexia and other disorders such as schizophrenia and depression. In particular this has implications for improving the brain development and concentration of the unborn, children and young people.

Recommended intake of Omega 3

Many studies have demonstrated that Omega 3 can make a vital dietary contribution at every stage of human life.

The NHS recommendation is that everyone should eat 2 portions of seafood per week, one of which should be oily (a portion is about 140g). The recommended intake of EPA/DHA (long-chain omega 3) is 3g per person per week. For more information please follow the link below:

We believe it’s best to get your intake of Omega 3 by eating fresh or frozen seafood, rather than taking supplements. This is because of the wider benefits associated with eating fish and shellfish. It is now generally accepted that Omega 3 fish oils can play an invaluable role in human health and should be consumed at least once a week by everyone.

NHS Advice on Oily Fish and Omega 3

Find out more about eating fish and shellfish as part of a healthy diet.

NHS tips for healthy eating