By Susan Greeley, MS, RD
The start of autumn may not typically trigger thoughts of seafood,
but there’s good reason it should — October is National Seafood Month!
Hot or cold outside, seafood is in.
In case you don’t know or need a reminder, eating seafood as part of your weekly diet has health benefits across the lifecycle:
Here are the known compelling reasons for eating seafood:
- Help with healthy brain development of infants and children.
- Maintaining good heart and cardiovascular health — The cholesterol question was answered more than a decade ago, and it appears that not only fish but shellfish, such as shrimp, improves heart health.
- Weight control — The combination of lean protein with a lack of saturated and trans fats but containing good fat is to credit for helping with weight control.
- Anti-aging — Omega-3’s and antioxidants are at play to prevent memory loss as we age. There is also reason to believe seafood helps us look younger longer and that fish oils and antioxidants may even prevent muscle damage and loss associated with aging.
Scientific studies have attributed most of these health benefits to the “good” omega-3 fats found in seafood, but it goes beyond that. Seafood offers a variety of vitamins and minerals, including selenium, which is one mineral that acts as an antioxidant, helping the body rid itself of damaging free radicals that can age our cells and cause disease, including cancer and heart disease. As for the best anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer seafood, shrimp and salmon are the best choice. The pink color in both comes from a compound called astaxanthin, a carotenoid phytochemical (plant nutrient) and antioxidant known for its powerful free radical scavenging effects. Shrimp and salmon get this plant nutrient from eating specific algae that naturally contain it. The benefits are passed to the shrimp and salmon and other seafood that eat the specific pink or red algae, much the same way that salmon get their omega-3 fatty acids from eating krill.
In other words, seafood can help you look and feel great.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans calls for Americans to eat at least two servings of seafood per week and for the general population to increase amount and variety of seafood consumed. This means now is the perfect time to add seafood to your weekly meals repertoire and party menus.
As for socializing this fall, from tailgating and game nights to Halloween and Thanksgiving get togethers, think seafood. For small or large groups at home, cook up a savory seafood cioppino (seafood stew) or simply set out some shrimp cocktail. If you’re heading to an outdoor tailgate party, pack up some “peel & eat” seasoned shrimp or grilled shrimp with dipping sauce. For daily meals as well as special occasions, there is great variety of fresh seafood to be found in supermarkets everywhere. The fresh seafood offerings have expanded nationwide due to improved farming methods (responsible aquaculture) creating abundant, healthy and sustainable supplies of fresh seafood. For nutritional comparisons, more information can be found on the National Fisheries Institute website at www. aboutseafood.com.
If you’re looking for a simple, healthy everyday recipe, here’s a quick and colorful (= vitamin-rich) way to enjoy shrimp any time of year.