Consumers missing out on seafood benefits

It is recommend that American eat two servings – or about eight ounces - of seafood weekly It is recommend that American eat two servings – or about eight ounces - of seafood weekly

According to a study conducted by the USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists, while most US consumers eat some seafood, the amounts are inadequate to meet federal dietary guidelines.

Seafood contains healthful natural compounds known as omega-3 fatty acids. Two omega-3s - EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) - are abundantly available in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, trout, and tuna. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, or DGAs, recommend eating two servings of seafood weekly, or about eight ounces, to get at least 1,750 milligrams of EPA and DHA weekly.

The study was conducted at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The study was based on an evaluation of food-intake data collected from a representative sampling of the US population. That data is collected during the national survey known as “What We Eat in America/NHANES.”

Overall, about 80-90% of US consumers did not meet their seafood recommendations. The researchers also found that the proportions of seafood consumption varied by sex, income, and education level but not by race-ethnicity. Groups associated with eating less (or no) seafood were women, people aged 19 to 30, and people of lower income and education levels.

“Much work remains to move US consumers toward eating seafood at current recommended levels,” said leader of the study, ARS nutritionist Lisa Jahns Jahns.

Also at the Grand Forks center, lead author and nutritionist Susan Raatz and colleagues reviewed published studies that explored fish consumption’s link to reduced heart-disease risk. They found consistent evidence supporting reduced risk of heart disease due particularly to eating oily fish, which is high in EPA and DHA.

Recently, USDA’s interactive website for helping consumers use the federal dietary guidelines - ChooseMyPlate.gov - launched a board on Pinterest that highlights healthful seafood recipes from a variety of sources.

“With this latest USDA study, we see more evidence that federal nutrition guidance is uniting around a clear message; eat more seafood,” said Rima Kleiner from the National Fisheries Institute.

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