Protein is essential for keeping your body fit and fueled. Beef and chicken are popular choices, but fresh seafood is a healthy protein that people often overlook.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest eating at least 8 ounces of seafood every week. Yet, Agriculture Research Service found that 80-90% of Americans didn’t meet that recommendation.
Fish and shellfish offer many health benefits and are easy to prepare. Here are five reasons you should choose seafood as your protein:
Fresh Seafood Is Rich in Nutrients
If you want a protein source that also supplies plenty of vitamins and minerals, look no further. Fish and shellfish are packed with nutrients that are vital for your body to function.
You can find all the nutrients listed below in seafood:
- Vitamin A, B12, C, D, and E
If you’re thinking, “that’s a really long list,” you’re correct! Seafood’s nutrient content alone makes it one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
These nutrients have a positive effect on your body. For example, vitamin C and iron can increase your blood quality and quantity to maintain optimum hemoglobin levels. Vitamin D boosts immunity, mood, and bone health. Iodine is crucial for your thyroid and preventing thyroid cancer.
Most people are deficient in at least one nutrient listed above. Incorporating more fish and shellfish into your diet is an easy way to ensure your getting the vitamins and minerals you need.
It’s a Lean Protein Source
All meat provides a good deal of protein. Yet, many types of meat are high in saturated fat. Although healthy fats are a crucial part of your diet, consuming too much saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol, weight gain, heart disease, and stroke.
So how do you get in your protein without all the saturated fats? This is where our friends from the sea come into play as a low-fat and low-calorie protein source.
Most fish and shellfish contain less than 5% fat. But even fatty fish have only around 15% fat, which is comparable to other lean meats like chicken breast.
The fat that seafood does contain is actually healthy for you. Take salmon, for example. There’s great protein in salmon, even though its fat content is around 15%. The fat is omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have linked to many health benefits.
If you’re watching your fat or calorie intake, you can’t go wrong with choosing seafood as your protein source.
It May Prevent Diseases
Because of the wonderful omega-3s discussed earlier, seafood can prevent many diseases.
Your body uses omega-3s as an energy source to fuel your heart, lungs, immune system, and blood vessels. They also play a considerable role in the structure of your cell walls. As a result, these fatty acids are essential for keeping your body’s systems in line.
Omega-3s lower triglyceride levels in the blood, which lowers your blood fat levels. Because of this, regular fish consumption is excellent for heart health and decreases the chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
Studies have also shown that seafood lowers the risk of autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.
Seafood may also prevent other health complications such as asthma, ADHD, and vision impairment,
Including more fish and shellfish in your diet can help you keep these health challenges at bay.
It Improves Mental Health
Are you feeling depressed or anxious? You may find relief after eating fish because seafood may help boost mental health.
According to a study from the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, eating more fish reduces the risk of depression.
The National Library of Medicine found that omega-3s are essential to the structure and function of your brain. Their studies have had positive results when using Omega-3s to treat mood disorders like unipolar and bipolar depression.
The Vitamin D content in fatty fish may also improve the quality of your sleep. A lack of sleep can significantly affect your mental health, so eating salmon for dinner may help your mentality for the next day.
If you’re struggling with a mood disorder, experiment with adding more seafood to your diet to see if your condition improves.
Seafood Is Easy to Prepare
If the health benefits alone aren’t enough to persuade you, fresh seafood is also easy to prepare.
It cooks quickly, pairs well with most vegetables, and tastes delicious with very little preparation. You can even order seafood delivery to ensure fresh and sustainable seafood from the comfort of your home—as if it could get any easier!
To maximize health benefits, baking, steaming, boiling, and poaching are the best ways to cook your seafood. These methods preserve the most omega-3s and nutrients while preventing harmful toxins, compared to frying, sauteing, and grilling.
How you choose to serve your seafood will also affect how healthy it is. For example, salmon served on a mound of pasta with a rich cream sauce may be delicious, but it adds a humongous amount of calories and fat to your meal.
Alternatively, you can season your salmon with salt, pepper, and various spices, such as tarragon, ginger, turmeric, cumin, or Italian seasoning. You can also squeeze some lemon juice over your fish for a bit of zing! This way is healthier and less complicated than serving it with a fattening sauce that takes extra time and dishes to make.
Don’t forget to check the internal temp of salmon before removing it from the heat! The thickest part of the fish should be 145-degrees before consumption.
Bonus tip: to prevent overcooking fish, remove it from the heat at 140-degrees. It will continue to cook after you pull it, so it will be that perfect 145-degree temperature you need for safe and yummy fish when it’s ready to serve.
Despite their myriad health benefits, most Americans do not eat enough fish and shellfish. Fresh seafood is rich in nutrients and a lean protein source. In addition, studies have shown its ability to prevent diseases and improve mental health. If that’s not enough to prove that fish and shellfish are miracle foods, it’s also easy to prepare and makes for a delicious meal. Don’t forget to add seafood to your next food plan so that you won’t miss out on all its benefits!