People, in general, feel good about seafood. They agree it’s good for their health. They see it as a perfect choice when they want something special. And they love how it tastes. In fact, Americans are eating more seafood as they discover its great taste and healthy benefits: 30 percent of consumers report they increased their fish consumption in the past year to eat healthier. And we know restaurants are critical to seafood consumption, as market research shows an estimated 70 percent of seafood eaten in the United States is consumed in restaurants.
Despite this research, only one in 10 Americans meets the national Dietary Guidelines recommendation of having seafood at least two times a week. Research shows eating seafood two to three times per week reduces the risk of death from any health-related cause. Seafood provides unique health benefits as a lean protein that is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy fats essential to human health and development (see accompanying chart for Omega-3 levels in different species).
In the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) study, researchers found that seafood sits among the highest quality proteins available and offers many additional health benefits throughout a human’s lifespan. It is beneficial in brain development and heart health, improves how women feel during pregnancy, and aids in brain and eye development for children.
Nutritious food and good brain health are closely connected. Omega-3 DHA, which is found in seafood, is crucial to your brain as it helps neurons trigger and cells regenerate. It is such an important building block that researchers found people with low levels of Omega-3 DHA have measurably smaller brains!
Eating seafood twice a week can also reduce the risk of heart disease and give more energy throughout the day. Eyes depend on Omega-3s for optimal function as nearly half of the eye’s light-detecting cell structure are made of Omega-3s. Additional research has shown that when pregnant or nursing moms eat at least two servings of a variety of seafood per week there are positive benefits for both mom and the baby. Babies have improved brain development and experience higher IQs.
Putting more seafood on your menu will help your customers reach the dietary goal of eating seafood twice a week. While the primary goal of restaurant staff is to provide customers with delicious food, customers will feel good knowing that restaurants care about their well-being and offer healthy and delicious seafood as a key menu choice.
For more information, visit www.seafoodnutrition.org
Linda Cornish is the president and founder of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, a non-profit organization inspiring a healthier America through a balanced diet that includes seafood.