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Health effects of seafood

14.02.2014 // Seafood is a natural part of a balanced diet. It contains high levels of several important nutrients ( and thus helps us maintain a good nutritional status, important for our health).

The importance of diet

Obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases are increasing in the western world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that 80 per cent of cardiac infarctions, 90 per cent of diabetes type 2 and 30 per cent of cancer occurrences could be prevented with better diets, regular physical activity and not smoking. In Europe, more than 70 per cent of the most important risk factors associated with non-communicable diseases are related to our diet. These diseases are closely related to excess weight gain partly due to a high intake of e.g. sugar and energy dense foods , highlighting the importance of a healthy diet. 

A varied and healthy diet is a prerequisite for good health. Fish and other seafood are an important part of a balanced diet and contribute to a good nutritional status. The Norwegian health authorities’ general recommendation is to increase the consumption of fish, both for dinner and as spread. This recommendation applies especially to those who currently eat no or very little fish as part of their diet. Children, young people, pregnant women in particular eat little fish. A good nutritional status is especially important for these vulnerable groups. Seafood contains high levels of many important nutrients that are not commonly found in other foods. It is an excellent source of proteins, very long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), vitamin D, selenium and iodine. Fatty fish and certain fatty seafood products have the highest level of marine omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in our diet.

Good for your heart health

We know quite a lot about the health effects of isolated nutrients present in fish, but less about the combined effects of nutrients in fish, i.e. how fish as food contribute to promote and maintain good health.. So far the documented beneficial  effects of a high intake of fish are mainly related to the content of EPA and DHA, which make the veins more elastic, prevent blood clots, reduce blood pressure, stabilise heart rhythm and generally reduce the risk of a heart attack.

Other health effect from seafood

Epidemiological studies have shown an association between  seafood consumption and a lower prevalence of  depression. This indicates that consuming seafood result in lower risk of depression. Consumption of fish and other seafood is also important during  pregnancy and foetal development, including foetus growth and neurobiological development.

Most studies have involved pure fish oil or capsules containing various fish oils or pure EPA and DHA. By contrast, very few intervention studies have explored  the  health effects of a regular intake of fish and other seafood. Hence NIFES aims to study the overall health effects of  seafood intake in relation to obesity, diabetes type 2 and mental health.

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