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Seafood: Is It Good or Bad for Your Health?
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Seafood: Is It Good or Bad for Your Health?

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Published on 2022 July 28
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5 min

There are plenty of different types of seafood; however, not all of them are healthy. Let’s explore which ones are beneficial and which are not.

is seafood healthy

When you hear the word seafood, what comes to your mind? Salmon? Tuna? King mackerel? Crabs, shrimps, and lobster? Or maybe it is squid?

Well, the ocean holds a collection of creatures that are fit for human consumption. Some of these creatures are obvious choices that we see used frequently in dishes around the world.

Others, however, are rare, meaning you would have to travel far before getting the opportunity to taste them.

Today, we will look at the benefits of eating seafood.

Get comfortable as we venture into the world of deep-sea creatures.

Is Seafood Healthy?

Yes, eating seafood is a healthy option for everybody, irrespective of your dietary requirements. In fact, regularly eating seafood offers numerous benefits due to its assortments of nutrients.

Seafood contains small amounts of saturated fats, carbohydrates, and calories. But on the other hand, it is high in protein, omega-3s, and other essential vitamins and minerals.

Research suggests that those who ate fish had lower chances of cognitive declines and CHD. You also get to keep your weight in check while maintaining a healthy body.

What Types of Seafood Exist?

When we talk about seafood, we are not limiting this to fish consumption. It includes all types of edible fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and echinoderms. From what we know, there is an abundance of creatures below the depths, and most of these sea creatures are edible (although some of them need special preparations).

Fish: There are so many different species of edible fish in the world. Freshwater fish, saltwater fish – these creatures come in an assortment of shapes and sizes.

They are the most versatile seafood in the world, coming in different processed forms and fitting into numerous cuisines and recipes. Casseroles, burgers, salads, their usage knows no bounds. You can even enjoy fish raw, usually in sushi.

They offer different flavors, and you can enjoy them grilled, baked, fried, or boiled.

Crustacean: These form one-half of the shellfish class. Crustaceans include the likes of crabs, shrimps, prawns, krill, and lobsters. They come in a wide array of sizes, from small to large, and they fit into numerous recipes.

You can eat crustaceans boiled, baked, fried, or grilled, with each method offering a different side to the food. Overall, their selling grounds are their unique taste, texture, and cost.

Mollusks: Mollusks form the second half of the shellfish class. This includes clams, cockles, oysters, scallops, mussels, slugs, and snails.

These invertebrates live in enclosed calcium carbonate shells, which is the key differentiating factor between them and crustaceans. Squid, octopus, and cuttlefish also rank among mollusks.

There are several others aside from the fish and shellfish listed above. For most people, fish makes up a big part of their seafood diet.

Nonetheless, crustaceans, mollusks, medusozoa, echinoderms, and even roe form a big part of this food chain. They provide many essential nutrients, as well as an assortment of flavors, making them one of the go-to sources of lean animal proteins.

Opting for diverse options will help cover common nutritional gaps. It also aids in reducing overfishing, which is a great deal for most marine ecosystems.

When you decide to eat grilled king mackerel, remember to consider the population going forward.

Nutritional Facts About the Most Common Seafood

Seafood has an established role in improving human health because it contains various nutrients. Years of research have brought forth reasons to add it to your diet.

We shall briefly look into key nutritional facts associated with this food class.

High in vitamins and minerals

Seafood comes with an assortment of vitamins and minerals. You get access to a concentrated supply of vitamin A, vitamin B6 and B12, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, selenium, iron, and zinc by eating different seafood.

Vitamins A, B6, B12, and D, as well as zinc, iron, and selenium, play a synergistic role in keeping the immune system functioning and free from infections. It also helps in improving eye and brain function. Likewise, calcium and vitamin D are great for improving bone health.

Overall, eating fish and other seafood products increases your chances of gaining many health benefits, especially for those whose food supply lacks nutrients.

High in cholesterol

All seafood contains some levels of cholesterol. However, the level of cholesterol present varies across different seafood.

To put this into perspective, squid has the most cholesterol per unit weight (per 100g serving) among different options. Similarly, shrimp, which most consumers seem to enjoy, has high cholesterol content (100g serving of shrimp contains about 189mg of cholesterol).

Interestingly, due to being rich in omega-3 fatty acids and containing several antioxidants, it is okay for consumption, as it is in moderation; this will not hamper your cholesterol level.

The cooking process also influences the cholesterol level. For example, cooking in unsaturated fats increases cholesterol levels, which leads to an elevated risk of obesity, heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Fried seafood contains too many unhealthy ingredients. The better option is to boil, roast, or grill your seafood with minimal salt too. You get great-tasting food without the unwanted bits.

Low in carbohydrates

Seafood stands at the pinnacle of low-carb foods. The likes of salmon, trout, and sardines contain zero carbs, while light canned tuna and blue crab contain 0.08g and 0g of net carbs, respectively. Even fish tacos contain fewer carbs.

Like the cholesterol content, the total nutritional value depends greatly on the type of seafood and the preparation method. This is why we encourage eating a mix of different seafood to get all the nutritional benefits and opting for grilled, boiled, or roasted seafood instead of fried seafood.

FAQs

Is the pescatarian diet a seafood-based diet?

The pescatarian diet does not center on seafood. The pescatarian diet is a vegetarian diet that allows the addition of fish and other seafood. However, seafood stands as the main protein source.

What species of fish contains the highest level of contaminants?

Tilefish, albacore tuna, bigeye tuna, king mackerel, sharks, and swordfish are among several fish species with the highest level of mercury contamination.

Are seafood-based diets healthier than other diets?

There is little to no evidence supporting claims regarding seafood diets being the healthiest. However, with the known benefits associated with eating fish, shrimps, and seafood-related products, incorporating seafood into your diet is a given.

A Word From Our Nutritionist

As much as eating seafood is a good way to cover common nutritional gaps in your diet, you must consider several variables to get the most out of it.

With fish consumption being the most popular way to enjoy seafood, we can use it as a benchmark to draw our conclusions regarding any health-related cause.

For starters, dietary guidelines state fish should be cooked thoroughly before consuming it, and that deep-frying fish is a bad cooking method. This is because it involves the use of unsaturated fats (vegetable oils), which leads to several health-related problems such as stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.

A better fried fish alternative would be boiled, grilled, or smoked fish. These cooking methods preserve important nutrients while eliminating the harm associated with fried fish.

You can also go for other seafood choices, such as canned seafood in place of its fresh counterpart.

Conclusion

The goal does not stop at simply adding more seafood to match your dietary needs. Yes, the health benefits of eating seafood are numerous; however, you cannot eat what you cannot find.

As many environmental protection agencies are tasked with keeping existing marine environments safe, we still need to do our parts to keep the food chain sustainable.

We must avoid dumping plastic waste and other contaminants into water bodies. Likewise, your fish intake should encompass different fish species to prevent overfishing. A seafood recommendation search tool is a good strategy for finding out any fish species’ sustainability.

Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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