According to an upcoming report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), “consumption of fish provides energy, protein, and a range of other important nutrients, including the long-chain n-3 [omega-3] poly unsaturated fatty acids.” These international agencies are urging governments around the world to do a better job of encouraging people to eat fish.
This is good news for anyone who wants to reap the health benefits of a diet that’s rich in seafood, including pregnant women (and women who are planning to become pregnant).
The FAO/WHO report also says that “maternal fish consumption lowers the risk of suboptimal neurodevelopment in their offspring.” In other words, babies born to women who eat fish while they’re pregnant have a head-start over other kids.
And the news gets even better: That same report finds that “consumption of fish, particularly oily fish, lowers the risk of coronary heart disease mortality.” So fish isn’t just brain food. It’s also heart-healthy.
Scientific research is clear about how the omega-3s can reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, certain cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, low birth weight, post-partum depression, and pre-term delivery.
Beyond omega-3s, seafood is also full of protein, vitamin B12, potassium, selenium, and, in some seafood varieties, iron and vitamin D. Just like with fruits and vegetables, different types of fish and shellfish are bursting with different nutrients. The best way to get all of the nutritional benefits of seafood is to mix it up and try a little bit of everything.
So how do your favorite fish stack up? This calculator—the only one of its kind anywhere online—can help you count the omega-3s and other important nutrients you get from seafood. For the first time, you can see how much fish you need to eat to reach the USDA’s Reference Daily Intake of these nutrients (RDI, indicated in parentheses).*
This calculator can also tell you how much fish is safe to eat, based on mercury standards from the Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency. The level of naturally occurring mercury in ocean fish, for instance, is insignificant in the portion sizes that consumers typically eat.
Note: The USDA currently does not have a Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for omega-3s. But the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids advises that people concerned with cardiovascular health should consume at least 500 milligrams per day.
This website addresses the nutritional features of commercial seafood (fish and shellfish available in stores and restaurants). It is not intended to help you make decisions about how much or how often to eat sport fish caught by friends and family in lakes and streams.
HowMuchFish.com calculates the health impact and risks of eating seafood for adults and school-age children. It is not meant to provide dietary information for children who weigh less than 30 lbs.