10 questions about seafood...
1. Are seafood-based diets healthy?
During the last 10 years, Doctors and Nutritionists have advocated the importance of this food. Its mineral and vitamin value (A, B1, B2, B3, B12, C and D), its easy digestion and mastication make it a diet for everyone. From a nutritional point of view, fish – and especially deep sea fish – provide an excellent quality of protein intake and special composition of fats, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, some of which are able to reduce both fat and cholesterol in the blood. Remember too that Vitamin B12 is a substance which pregnant women must have, the foetus using it abundantly to produce and regenerate its own blood. Of course, consuming fish cannot, by itself, prevent or resolve problems caused by a habitually unbalanced diet which is too rich in calories. It’s therefore elementary to follow a well-balanced diet, associated wherever possible with a non-sedentary lifestyle.
2. From a dietary viewpoint, does all seafood have the same nutritional value?
Generally, fish are divided into two categories: lean and fat fish. The former (sole, whiting, sea bass, trout, swordfish and cod) contain fifty per cent less fat than those of the second category (including tuna, mackerel, salmon, sardines or anchovies). Shellfish and molluscs make up a separate category: from a dietary aspect, they contain more cholesterol than fish and less Omega 3 fats. Additionally, they are more of a health risk because the vast quantity of water they filter. If this is not clean, they can accumulate and transmit viruses and bacteria. Consequently, it is imperative that they are ultra-fresh when they are bought.
3. Is seafood mineral-rich?
In fact, seafood contains quite a lot of minerals: selenium (which strengthens the immune system and fights free radicals), phosphorous, calcium (essential for the prevention of osteoporosis), iodine, copper and iron (anti-anaemic found mainly in oysters). But fish, like meat, is also rich in noble proteins, i.e., those which contain all the essential amino acids, more precisely those which the body is unable to produce itself. During digestion, food proteins are decomposed in specific amino acids which are then used to produce essential proteins, either for tissue renewal or to create substances such as antibodies (components of the natural defence system) and red corpuscles. As for fish fats, contrary to other animal fats, they perform important beneficial functions (see the Omega 3 role), acting on the regulatory mechanisms in cholesterol, improving blood distribution and therefore protecting the arteries and the heart.
4. Can very young children eat seafood?
Until the age of 18 months, it is best to avoid giving seafood, which may provoke allergies or food poisoning, as some minerals are too heavy for a child’s young organism. Even later, you should be careful and introduce seafood gradually to the menu – only using products whose origins you are sure of.
5. Why are so many people allergic to crabs and prawns?
5. Why are so many people allergic to crabs and prawns?
These two shellfish contain proteins which can cause strong allergic reactions from the immune system. It is not a coincidence that they are on the most implicated foods list. If a person has suffered even one attack, they should be eliminated until further notice. Generally, symptoms of such an allergy include appearance of red marks on the body, swelling, feeling suffocated or irritation around the throat area. In the case of tachycardia, dizziness or sudden drop in blood pressure, the emergency services should be contacted.
6. Is medication containing extract of oyster calcium really effective?
Yes. Doctors prescribe these supplements primarily to fight osteoporosis. Calcium carbonate is extracted from seafood shells. Attention: such products have nothing to do with the supplements obtained from shark cartilage, which do not have an effect on bone strengthening.
7. Is there any special advice for pregnant women?
Yes. There are advised to momentarily stay away from this food. The main reason is the risk of food poisoning – which leads to diarrhoea, sickness and elimination of essential nutrients for the foetus. Moreover, during pregnancy, many women reveal intolerance or a natural rejection to several foods and seafood is often one of them.
8. Can a person with a high uric acid count eat seafood?
No. Seafood is naturally rich in a type of protein (purine), capable of raising the uric acid concentration. Whoever has an excess of this substance should say no to the delicious paella which is tempting him! If he doesn’t heed this warning, the risks are real and serious: kidney stones, gout and inflammation of the joints.
9. Is it true that prawns absorb all the sea’s impurities?
It’s true that they eat the remains of sea creatures. However, this habit doesn’t affect the quality of the food: everything that a prawn swallows is transformed in its intestine and is not found in its flesh. So no need to worry.
10. Is a seafood diet recommended in the case of high cholesterol?
Various studies have shown that fish is very rich in a fatty acid called Omega-3, or “03”, or “EPA”. Omega-3 acid is mainly found in skipjack, tuna, sea salmon, cod and mackerel and to a lesser extent in sardines and anchovies. This acid thins the blood, rendering it more fluid during its passage through the fine arteries. Technically, EPA is a precursor of prostaglandin-3, a hormone compound which, by living in the blood, prevents arterial obstructions and spasms. Another effect of EPA is the prevention of rapid and excessive platelets, a frequent phenomenon which affects the spot where the accumulation of fats in an atherosclerosis process occurs. Even if it doesn’t stop the accumulation, the acid prematurely prevents blockage of the artery in question. Finally, EPA maintains the general quantity of fats (triglycerides) in the blood at a low level. As a recap, high global triglyceride content is linked to low levels of HDL, the “good” cholesterol. Research from the University of Leiden (The Netherlands) has shown that the risks of dying from a heart attack are reduced by 50% if we eat a minimum of three fish meals per week. Many similar experiments have confirmed these findings: Salt water fish provides invaluable properties for the cholesterol balance. Ideally, an adult should eat half a kilo of fish each week.