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To Your Health: Savor the health benefits of seafood

Long lines of people stood among the trucks in the local parking lot. Carefully spaced six feet apart, the men and women were waiting patiently to buy seafood offered by area fishermen — clams, lobster, scallops, even oysters. They were there because they wanted to support the fishermen and also because they knew that fresh, local seafood is delicious. But did they also know how good it is for you?

The American Heart Association released a scientific advisory in 2018 that recommended eating two servings of fish per week. Why? Because eating just 3.5 ounces of oily fish or shellfish twice a week reduces the risk of heart disease, heart failure, congestive heart failure and stroke. Quite a list of benefits from such a small amount of food. The reason that most seafood is so good for you has to do with Omega-3 fatty acid.

“Fat” and “acid” aren’t words typically associated with health. Omega-3, however, works to reduce cholesterol in the blood while decreasing inflammation in the body. The anti-inflammatory action reduces damage to the blood vessels, thereby protecting against heart disease and stroke. Omega-3 may also decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting, all of which benefits the body overall.

Omega-3 even help to keep your brain functioning well. One type of Omega-3, called docosahexaenoic acid or DHA, is required to by the brain and nervous system tissues to keep the brain in top shape. A 3½-ounce serving of lobster provides a substantial 83 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids. And that’s just the start. Seafood as a food group is a natural source of many different vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin D and B-complex vitamins. B-complex vitamins (B1, B3, biotin, B12, etc.) are vital for energy production and metabolism. Fish such as salmon are rich in vitamin A, which helps protect vision while boosting the immune and reproductive systems. Minerals such as selenium and zinc are also found in seafood. No one is likely to be talking about selenium at the breakfast table, but a deficiency of this vital mineral can lead to infertility, muscle fatigue and a weakened immune system. Lack of zinc can result in poor night vision, a decrease in sense of taste and smell, and a reduced ability to fight infections. The Mayo Clinic states that zinc is particularly high in herring and oysters, two seafood items popular with many Maine residents.

Then there’s lobster. The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that lobster is a low-calorie, low fat, rich source of protein. A 3½-ounce serving of lobster has 89 calories, 19 grams of protein, and less than 1 gram of fat. Lobster provides a significant amount of minerals, such as zinc, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium and potassium, as well as B vitamins. Lobster has less cholesterol than an egg (145 mg for lobster, 187 mg for an egg). Nutritional research has debunked the notion that dietary cholesterol is bad for you. In fact, dietary cholesterol, such as that found in lobster or an egg, is not strongly related to an increase in blood cholesterol or heart disease. What’s bad is consuming loads of saturated fat. That means the fat on a sirloin steak or the butter served with your lobster is far worse for you than the cholesterol in a lobster.

“What’s for supper?” is a universal refrain. During this time of constraints, the answer for most of us should still be “Lobster!”


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