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Seafood Choices: Balancing Benefits and Risks
populations or populations with established disease to examine its role in preventing recurrence of cardiovascular events.
Given the potential for different outcomes in general compared to high-risk populations, the committee also considered best practice guidelines for both, which take into account currently available evidence. The conclusions drawn from the evidence reviewed were the basis for decision-making about seafood selections discussed in later chapters. The literature reviewed in the chapter is summarized in tables included in Appendix B.
Seafood is a food source comparable to other animal protein foods in nutrient composition (see Chapter 2). In addition, seafood is an important contributor of selenium to the American diet and is unique among animal protein foods as a rich source for the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, although the roles of these fatty acids in maintaining health and preventing certain chronic diseases have not been completely elucidated (IOM, 2002/2005).
Benefits to the General Population Associated with Nutrients in Seafood
As noted in Chapter 1, the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) provides science-based advice to promote health and reduce risk for chronic diseases through diet and physical activity. The guidelines are targeted to the general public over 2 years of age living in the United States. But as noted in Chapter 2, general adherence to the DGA is low among the US population.
Seafood provides an array of nutrients that may have beneficial effects on health (see Chapter 2). While protein is an important macronutrient in the diet, most Americans already consume enough protein and do not need to increase their intake. Fats and oils are also part of a healthful diet, but the type of fat can be important, for example, with regard to heart disease. Many Americans consume greater than recommended amounts of saturated fat from high-fat animal protein foods such as beef and pork as well as trans fat from processed foods (Capps et al., 2002). A diet high in fat (greater than 35 percent of calories), particularly animal fat, may increase saturated fat intake, add excess calories, and increase risk for coronary heart disease. Many seafood selections, depending upon preparation method, are lower in total and saturated fat and cholesterol than some more frequently selected animal protein foods, including both lean and fatty cuts of beef, pork, and poultry (Table 3-1). By substituting seafood more often for other animal foods, consumers can decrease their overall intake of total and saturated fats while retaining the nutritional quality of other protein food choices.