Fat content of seafood groups is broadly outlined in the table below.
Fish are unique because they tend to be higher in long chain polyunsaturated fats than most land animals.
A variety of fish can be included in the diet, with some restrictions placed on
crustaceans because of their high cholesterol content.
|Type of seafood||Examples||Fat content|
|Fin fish (moderate to high fat)||sardines, ocean trout, Atlantic salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel||moderate to high fat, moderate cholesterol, good source of omega-3|
|Fin fish (low fat)||whiting, barramundi, trevally, flake, flounder low fat,||low cholesterol, some omega-3|
|MolluscsCrustaceans||mussels, oysters,crabs, lobster||low fat, low cholesterol, some omega-3|
|MolluscsCrustaceans||squid*,shrimp*, prawns*||low fat, high cholesterol, some omega-3|
* High cholesterol
Does eating fish reduce the risk of cancer?
Experimental studies and some studies in humans suggest that eating more fish and omega-3 fats may protect against cancer. Overall there is limited but suggestive evidence for associations between increased fish consumption and a reduced risk of breast, rectal and prostate cancer.
How much fish should I eat?
Because of the overall health benefits of fish and omega-3 fats, Cancer Council recommends people:
- Eat fish (preferably oily) at least two times per week
- Include some plant foods and oils rich in omega-3 fats in their diet.
Tips and ideas to boost fish and omega-3 fat intake
Practical and healthy ways to increase the intake of omega-3 fats in the diet include:
- Have grilled or steamed fish with vegetables for dinner
- Use fish in mixed dishes such as curries, stews, casseroles, pastas and soups
- Use canned fish to make fish cakes and serve with vegetables
- Mix canned fish through a salad
- Use canola oil in cooking, and canola based margarines on breads
- Eat soy and linseed bread
- Use whole soybeans in stews, casseroles and soups
- Eat a small handful of walnuts as a snack
- Include walnuts when making homemade breads, muffins and cakes
- Include green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and spinach in mixed dishes like curries and stir fries
- Make a spinach pie
Establishing link between omega-3 fatty acids in fish and reduction in coronary heart disease by demonstrating how a diet rich in fish oil lowers blood triglycerides and improves elasticity of large arteries.
The Institute’s research into fish oil began soon after reports emerged of Inuits in Greenland having minimal coronary disease, probably due to their omega-3 rich marine foods.
Initially showing the marked triglyceride lowering effect of fish oil (high blood triglyceride levels are now recognised as a major risk for heart attack), Baker Institute researchers investigated possible mechanisms in clinical studies. They found that fish oil lowered the production of both triglycerides and of the protein apoB, a building block of lipoproteins, which transport fats in the blood (Nestel, P et al. J Clin Invest 1984).
The importance of specific fish oil fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in cardiovascular health were also shown at the Baker Institute. These compounds improve elasticity of large arteries and reduce arterial stiffness — a major factor causing hypertension (Nestel, P et al. Am J Clin Nutr 2002).
On the basis of the recognised health improvements brought about by long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, recommendations have been made to increase their intake, primarily through the consumption of fish, especially oily fish.