On Seafood: Pros and Concerns.


High Omega 3 Content

There are many kinds of Omega3s. One of them is called ALA and it's a kind of Omega3 you can find in plants and seaweed like flaxseed and chia seeds. Our body can take the ALA and convert them into EPA and DHA which is the kind of Omega3s we actually need and use, but our body is very inefficient in synthesizing those, so only about 5% of the ALA is transformed into EPA and DHA. Animals, and especially some fatty fish, also convert the ALA they get from grass or from seaweed into EPA and store it in their fat or internal organs. So fatty fish like Salmon, Sardines and Herrings have a high content of EPA and DHA which is what our body need and therefore, even though Chia seeds and ground flaxseeds are still good for you, fish is a superior source of Omega3s. For more information you can just start by reading the Wikipedia entry on Omega3s.

High B12 Content

B12 is an essential vitamin for our survival and, unfortunately, it is a vitamin we cannot get from vegetables. Every vegan will tell you that they need to supplement their nutrition with b12, but to be honest I tend to think that no supplement will ever be as good as getting the right nutrients from your food.
Now if you look at this list compiled by the National Institute of Health of the best food sources of b12, you will find that, out of the top 7 best food sources, 5 are seafood. Clams are actually the best source of b12, followed by rainbow trout, sockeye salmon and tuna. 

High Protein - Low Saturated Fat

When it comes to adding protein to your diet without adding harmful saturated fats, fish is one of the best sources you could think of. And it is easy to cook without adding much fat to it which makes it even better.


Mercury Content

Every kind of fish or shellfish contains a certain amount of mercury, and that can be a health concern especially for small children and pregnant women. 
The FDA has published a list of recommended fish based on their lower mercury levels and that list includes some of my favorites: canned light tuna, salmon and shrimp.


So we have established that salmon, tuna, sardines and herrings are potentially very healthy choices for us, but what about the planet? The oceans are being depleted by intensive and irresponsible fishing practices and even fish farming can have a negative ecological impact if not done right. The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a very useful website and issues a very useful guide to help buyers choose the fish that has been fished following the best sustainability practices and it is important to always double check where your fish is coming from before you buy it. You can go to their website here and enter the name of a fish and find out which species are better to buy, or even order their guide to take with you when you go shopping. Here are some fish I use and that I have already checked for you:
  • European or Pacific Sardines
  • Littleneck clams
  • Sockeye or Chinook Salmon
  • Herring

Tuna is a little more complex. Albacore tuna is sustainable, but it also contains more mercury according to the FDA list I posted above. Skipjack and Yellowfin are commonly used for the canned "Chunk Light" variety, but not all of them are sustainable and the canneries are not under obligation of posting the provenance of the tuna their use. Bumblebee is a commonly found brand who seems to be trying to make effort toward using sustainable fisheries.

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