Making healthy diet and lifestyle changes is more important to Colroadoans now than ever before. If you’ve been thinking about ways to improve your long-term health, seafood can be an excellent option. Studies suggest that eating fish just once or twice a week is enough to reap its nutritional benefits. Whether you’re looking to boost athletic performance for the summer activities or improve your immune system, regularly eating fish like salmon, halibut, and Colorado trout can help.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Can Boost Overall Health
Omega-3 fatty acids are “essential.” In other words, the body cannot manufacture them on its own, and so people should seek them out in the foods they eat. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to cell membrane health, especially in the eye, brain, and reproductive cells. These fatty acids can help people to manage high blood pressure, improve muscle strength, and boost metabolism. This, in turn, can increase cardiovascular fitness, brain health, and general wellbeing.
Many popular seafoods boast impressive omega-3 fatty acid levels. Wild Alaskan salmon and locally-sourced trout are among the most common.
Low-Fat Proteins Give You Energy
Seafood, like a lot of meat, is an excellent source of protein. This macronutrient helps the body repair itself, aiding physical development, muscle recovery, and overall health. Protein is a factor in nearly every cellular process, aiding in metabolic reactions, immune responses, and energy production.
Eating meat can help people reach their recommended protein intake. But red meat products, like steak and ribs, also boast a hefty calorie and fat content. Seafood doesn’t have this problem.
Lean proteins are an excellent way to get vital nutrients while watching overall calorie intake. Lucky for seafood lovers, some types of fish are almost pure protein. Halibut, for example, is a naturally lean fish that packs a whopping 42 grams of high-quality protein per serving. The average recommended protein intake is typically between 46 and 56 grams, which means one serving of halibut will get you most of the way there.
Improve Your Immune System with Essential Vitamins and Minerals
The immune system has been top of mind the for most Coloradans this past year, and a lot of patients have asked how they can prevent illness and be healthier. While specific advice will differ by patient, improving your diet is the best way to boost your immune system. Specifically, diets lacking important nutrients can decrease the production and activity of immune cells and antibodies.
Seafood is a great source of the vitamins and minerals you need to stay happy and healthy. Fish is a natural source of vitamin D, vitamin A, and B-complex vitamins. All of these are associated with a healthy immune system, as well as healthy vision, clear skin, and strong bones. Additionally, minerals like selenium, zinc, iron, and iodine are abundant in most seafood, like halibut, trout, and salmon. These can support healthy red blood cell production, maintain thyroid function, and maintain immune health. While eating a salmon fillet once a month isn’t likely to produce a noticeable difference in immune function, making fish a sustainable part of your diet can decrease your likelihood of catching a cold or the flu.
What About Mercury in Seafood?
Nearly all fish contain traces of mercury. But, for most people, these levels are not a health concern. Folks will need to eat a lot of fish to see any effect from mercury in seafood. If you’re very worried about consuming mercury, consider alternatives to more popular seafood choices. For example, trout is a sustainable, low-mercury fish that many people eat instead of farmed salmon. Several species of trout are found in Colorado. While these fishes’ range has decreased due to a variety of habitat factors, this should be a widely available option if you live here.
Adding Seafood to Your Diet
Introducing seafood to your diet doesn’t have to mean grilled salmon for dinner every night. Consider adding fish to salads, soups, and pastas to introduce the food group gradually. Think of seafood as an ingredient rather than a main course; it’s great for spicing things up, but it doesn’t have the be the center of a meal if you don’t want it to be.
When selecting fish, take care to buy high-quality seafood, prioritizing wild-caught cuts over farmed alternatives. Wild fish tend to have more omega-3 fatty acids, and they’re less likely to have potentially harmful contaminants and pollutants.
Despite Colorado being in the landlocked center of the contiguous United States, there are plenty of places to source high-quality fish. The good people at Cook Street School in downtown Denver told us that Denver has some of the freshest pacific fish in the US, as it is the first stop inland from the coasts. Who knew? Additionally, most local grocery stores will have a seafood counter, and specialty markets tend to have great wild options.