It’s time to stop thinking of fish or seafood as a nice dinner for Valentine’s Day or the 4th of July. Seafood is a delicious, nutrient-packed addition to your diet — and it could be the healthiest thing you eat. It contains vitamins, minerals, healthy fats that help lower your cholesterol levels, and Omega 3s, which are suitable for your heart. And with so many different types to choose from–fish like salmon, oysters, shrimp; clams; even octopus–there are many options to get these great benefits. There’s also a growing number of sustainably-caught options that have healthy benefits. So, what are the most beneficial kinds of eating?
Regarding seafood and health benefits, shrimp might have the edge. According to the USDA, shrimp has about 190 calories for every 3 ounces cooked. The protein in the 8-count serving of shrimp you’d get at Applebee’s is just over 20 grams—and it’s 85 percent lean. It also provides some vitamin B-6, selenium, and a bit of vitamin B12. Plus, there are a few reasons why shrimp is so good for you:
Shrimp is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Some common ways to prepare it are frying or grilling rather than deep frying like other kinds of seafood franchise (like fish).
Shrimp is high in Omega 3s, which help reduce blood pressure.
Shrimp is also low in sodium and high in potassium, which helps balance out the sodium that you get elsewhere.
While salt isn’t a big part of the health benefits of seafood, studies have shown that those who eat one serving of shrimp or other seafood once or twice a week are apt to live longer than those who never eat it. This may be because it’s so low in calories and fat but still packs flavor. It’s also been linked to improvements in brain function and even lowers your risk for certain types of cancer–especially colorectal cancer when shrimp is eaten at least once a month.
Other kinds of seafood have health benefits too. Tuna and salmon are both excellent low-calorie sources of protein, as well as tuna being a good source of Omega 3s and salmon being a good source of Omega 3s. So cook it up, but watch the sauce you use to cook your fish–that’s where salt comes in. Shrimp, cod, and oysters are other kinds of seafood that are low in calories and fat—though they tend to be a bit higher in sodium. They’re also high in vitamins like B12, B6, and selenium, as well as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron.
There’s one more thing about seafood that’s worth noting: sustainability. Many fisheries are being overfished, so you may not see many sustainable options. But if you can find wild-caught seafood, the benefits are there. There’s something about the wild fish that human beings have brought to our tables across history that makes it more nutritious than the same thing originating in a lab. For example:
Oysters come from warm coastal waters and are rich in zinc and calcium, which help improve bone health and are excellent for your immune system.
Shrimp proliferates, so they’re deficient in mercury too—which isn’t found anywhere else.