Seafood is an integral part of the Paleo diet. Eating fish regularly provides the body with healthy fats and many essential nutrients. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, eating just two portions of fish a week could cut your risk of dying from heart disease by 36%. What is it about fish that makes them so nutritious?
Omega-3 Fats, Other Nutrients and Health
Salmon, mackerel, tuna, anchovies and oysters are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are important because they play a role in the regulation of blood clotting. They also reduce tissue inflammation, alleviating the symptoms of arthritis. Recent research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids are also good for the health of your brain.
These foods are also high in protein. While it is possible to get protein from other sources, such as meat and nuts, it is always good to vary your diet. Both protein and omega-3 fatty acids are important for the health of your skin.
Seafood also contains selenium, which is thought to have anti-cancer properties. A recent Swedish study, which tracked the diet and health of 6,000 men over a 30-year period, found that those who did not eat fish regularly had more than double the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Mercury and Other Risks
In recent years, there have been some concerns raised about the safety of eating seafood. Low levels of mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been found in a range of species such as tuna, which is popular among athletes as a protein source.
The risk posed by mercury, is, however, minor unless you are eating exceptionally large amounts of tuna. In addition, the Paleo diet is based around eating food that is as “natural” as possible and this means supporting sustainable fisheries and eating fish that have been caught in less polluted areas. This reduces your risk from PCBs and mercury even further.
Avoiding such an important source of healthy fats and proteins because of an incredibly small risk does not make sense. Simply look for varieties that are more nutrient-dense and generally lower in mercury, such as snapper, carp, perch, skipjack tuna, crab, scallops and trout.
Incorporating Seafood into Your Diet
You don’t have to live on fried cod or sushi to incorporate seafood into your diet. You can steam, bake, or even poach fish. Some kinds, such as anchovies, are even tasty raw. The Paleo diet gives you lots of options. Smoked salmon with broccoli is a good, filling option and you can even make a tasty shrimp or salmon pie that fits well with the Paleo diet.
Over the years, we have been taught that all fats are bad and this means that the average modern diet contains far too little in the way of healthy fats such as omega-3 oils. If you choose the right kinds of seafood, you can enjoy a fairly low-calorie, filling and nutritious meal. The end result is that you will have more energy, feel full for longer and lose weight more quickly.