Regional Seafood Workshop highlights health benefits of fish

Consumers should eat at least two fish meals per week.

Both farmed and wild-caught seafood are nutrient-dense foods that are rich sources of healthy fatty acids. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Both farmed and wild-caught seafood are nutrient-dense foods that are rich sources of healthy fatty acids. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

A Great Lakes Regional Seafood Workshop held recently at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education Conference Center in Milwaukee, Wis., highlighted the nutritional benefits of eating Great Lakes fish.

The workshop was sponsored by the University of Delaware Sea Grant, the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, and the University Of Wisconsin Milwaukee School Of Freshwater Sciences. Michigan Sea Grant presented on “Great Lakes Whitefish Marketing Case Study” to demonstrate how promoting the attributes of a Great Lakes fish can increase sales. Those who attended the workshop received seafood quality and safety training to increase their technical knowledge and understanding of important global, national, and regional and local issues and developments related to seafood safety and human health.

Doris Hicks, Seafood Technology Specialist for University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service, also discussed the benefits of consuming seafood. Health benefits from seafood consumption include reduced coronary heart disease, improved cognitive development in infants, and improved vision in children. Other potential effects, but less certain, include reduction of certain cancers, improved immunological response, delay onset of Alzheimer’s, and lessening the effects of depression.

Consumers should eat eight ounces or more of a variety of seafood per week in place of other meats for maintaining good health. U.S. health organizations recommend a daily fish oil eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intake of 250 mg for most consumers and 1000 mg for people with cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women should eat at least eight ounces and up to twelve ounces of a variety of seafood per week that are lower in mercury. The nutritional value of fish is important during growth and development before birth, in early infancy for breastfed infants, and in childhood.

Research has shown the majority of the population is consuming some seafood but most are not consuming as much as recommended. And while most of the public recognizes the health advantages of seafood, more than half have also heard something negative. Fish advisory recommendations are not clearly understood and oftentimes confuse the public.

Both farmed and wild-caught seafood are nutrient-dense foods that are rich sources of healthy fatty acids. The risk of contamination is similar between farmed and wild caught seafood and does not outweigh the health benefits of consuming seafood. Wild-caught seafood cannot meet the growing demand thus creating a need for sustainable seafood farming practices.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

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