By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai
Seafood has been a favourite food for many, but recently the number of people replacing red meat with sea food has been increasing like never before. It is not only tasty, but also helps to prevent various diseases as it is full of nutritious elements. Here we look at the benefits of including it in your daily diet.
Fish is among the healthiest foods on the planet. It’s loaded with important nutrients, such as protein and vitamin D. Fish is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are incredibly important for your body and brain. All fish supply high amounts of protein, have low levels of saturated fat and contain vitamin E, an important antioxidant.
Common Types of Seafood
Seafood is any form of sea life regarded as food by humans, prominently including fish and shellfish. Shellfish include various species of molluscs (e.g. clams, oysters, and mussels and such as octopus and squid), crustaceans (e.g. shrimp, crabs, and lobster).
The common types preferred by people are: 
- Clams: Clams are very popular among seafood lovers all around the world. Clams are rich in vitamins and minerals.
- Crab: One of the most consumed seafood along with prawns, crabs are very tasty and rich in proteins. Many doctors advise children to consume crab as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are very important for the growth of the brain.
- Shrimp: Shrimps are low in fat and low in calorie protein. Shrimps are full of Vitamin D, which is very important for strong teeth and bones.
- Fish: Fish are low-fat high quality protein. Fish are filled with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins such as D and B2 (riboflavin). Fish is also rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.
- Prawns: Prawns contain vitamins and minerals like calcium, phosphorous, potassium, vitamin A, vitamin E, etc. They are packed with significant amounts of vitamin B12, B6 and niacin. They are also a rich source of iron that helps in boosting the production of red blood cells.
Health Benefits of Seafood   
Provides essential nutrients – Though the specifics depend upon which type seafood you consume, seafood is known for being a natural source of vitamins and minerals. B-complex vitamins, vitamin D and vitamin B.
B-complex vitamins (vitamins such as B1, B3, biotin, B12, etc.) perform many different functions, influencing energy production, metabolism, concentration, and even beauty. Some types of fish, such as salmon, are rich in vitamin A, which helps protect vision and boost the immune and reproductive system’s capabilities. Another vitamin found in some seafood often the fatty skin of salmon, tuna and others is vitamin D, which promotes healthy bone growth, calcium absorption, and boosts immune system efficiency as well as cell growth.
Promotes heart health – While seafood is nutritious enough to be low in saturated fats and high in protein, its greatest health benefit lies in its abundant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are most notably known for their benefits in heart health. In fact, they can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular events from occurring, such as arrhythmias, strokes, and heart attacks. Though many prefer to acquire their omega-3 fatty acids with capsules, scientists prefer the actual consumption of actual seafood.
Good for your joints – Eating seafood on a regular basis has been proven to ease the symptoms of arthritis.Omega-3 fatty acids can ease tender joints and reduce morning stiffness in subjects with rheumatoid arthritis.
Maintains eyesight – A 2014 study published in the Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science Journal suggests that those who consume omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood are less likely to suffer from age-related macular degeneration, a disease that can result in the loss of vision. Fish and shellfish can also boost your night vision. Eating oil-rich fish regularly can help to keep the eyes bright and healthy.
Good skin – Eating seafood helps preserve moisture in the skin. Your skin’s natural glow is affected more from what you eat than what you apply directly to it. The omega-3 fatty acids in seafood protect the skin against UV rays from the sun and recent research has found limited findings suggesting fish oil can help reduce the prevalence of acne.
Boosts brainpower – Seafood omega-3s may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A sufficient intake of DHA and EPA found in omega-3 fatty acids promote proper brain growth in infants and children.
Fights against depression – Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids and risk of depression ad has found that consuming omega-3 fatty acids can not only decrease the risk of depression but has the potential to treat depression as well. Consuming more seafood can help you have a better, more positive outlook on life.
Pregnancy benefits – Eating more fish has positive benefits on birth weight because it enhances fetal growth and development. Seafood consumption also aid in reducing preterm delivery and is essential for central nervous system development.
Improves immune function – Increased omega-3 consumption can reduce the symptoms of asthma and certain allergies. Selenium is a potent antioxidant found in seafood that is known to improve the immune system.
A good dietary sources of vitamin D – Fish and fish products are among the best dietary sources of vitamin D. Fatty fish like salmon and herring contain the highest amounts.
May help prevent and treat depression – Depression is a common mental condition. It’s characterized by low mood, sadness, decreased energy, and loss of interest in life and activities. Numerous controlled trials also reveal that omega-3 fatty acids may fight depression and significantly increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.
May protect your vision in old age – Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness that mostly affects older adults.
Fish may improve sleep quality – Sleep disorders have become incredibly common worldwide. Increased exposure to blue light may play a role, but some researchers believe that vitamin D deficiency may also be involved.
Delicious and easy to prepare – Fish is delicious and easy to prepare. For this reason, it should be relatively easy to incorporate it into your diet. Eating fish one or two times per week is considered sufficient to reap its benefits.
Risks of Highly Eating Seafood
While eating Seafood has nutritional benefits, it also has potential risks. Seafood can take in harmful chemicals from the water and the food they eat. Chemicals like mercury and PCBs can build up in their bodies over time.
- High levels of mercury and PCBs can harm the brain and nervous system.
- Mercury can be especially harmful to fetuses, infants, and children because their bodies are still developing.
- PCBs can cause cancer and other harmful health effects.
Who could be at Risk from Mercury?
Because mercury can affect the developing nervous system, pregnant and nursing mothers exposed to large amounts of mercury could jeopardize the brain development of the fetus and infant. 
Having a seafood-based diet with a balance of fatty and non-fatty fish goes a long way toward having both a good heart and a healthy body weight but that’s just the beginning. Healthy eyes, hair, nails, skin, brains and more await those who get enough fish in their diet.