Seafood has a bounty of benefits for you & your family.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended in June 2014 that pregnant and breastfeeding women increase their weekly consumption of seafood to at least eight ounces. Expectant moms can have up to 12 ounces of fish per week, provided their choices don’t contain higher levels of mercury.
“Based on a review of the latest science, we have concluded that it is possible for pregnant and breastfeeding women — and women who might become pregnant — to increase growth and developmental benefits to their children by eating more fish than these groups of women typically do,” says FDA Acting Chief Scientist Stephen Ostroff, MD. “Young children could also benefit by eating more of a variety of fish lower in mercury, although the recommended weekly amount would vary based on the size of the child,” he says.
Studies support the importance of eating fish for the optimal growth and development of a fetus, a breastfed baby or a young child. Fatty fish such as salmon contain heart-healthy, omega-3 fatty acids, which may help develop the fetal brain and spinal cord.
A great source of iron, zinc and protein — and low in saturated fat — seafood promotes the well-being of not only expectant/breastfeeding moms and kids, but the general population as well. Fish consumption rates in the U.S. have been declining, and most of us could benefit from upping our intake.
You may be concerned that some species of fish contain high levels of mercury. According to FDA/EPA guidelines, if you are pregnant, are trying to become pregnant or are breastfeeding, the safest choices include salmon, shrimp, pollock, tilapia, catfish, cod and light canned tuna, which are lower in mercury.
It’s best to avoid tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish and king mackerel, entirely — and to limit white albacore tuna to six ounces per week.
The updated advice will help pregnant women and mothers make informed decisions about the right amount and right kinds of fish to eat.
Based on the new recommendations, how do you determine how much seafood is too much — or not enough? Eight to 12 ounces is the equivalent of two to three servings of fish per week. Need a visual? Each serving is about the size of a checkbook or a deck of cards.
So if you’re in the mood for seafood, indulge. If you’re not a fan, spice it up to your taste so you don’t miss out on the essential nutrients a flavorful fish feast may provide. You can dress up a portion of salmon tastefully with a bit of salt, pepper and oregano, topping it with cherry tomatoes, some black olives and a drizzle of olive oil, then grilling or baking it — along with your favorite veggies. Or, for a healthier version of traditional fish and chips, try “oven-fried” panko-crusted cod with a squeeze of fresh lemon, served with baked red mini-potatoes sprinkled with rosemary. Don’t forget the greens. Bon appétit.
Elaine Marotta is Editor-in-Chief/VP Publishing Operations of You & Your Family and CW Publishing Group.
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For more information, go to: fda.gov; epa.gov
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