CALS Publishing Catalog
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Seafood at Its Best
Current per-capita consumption of all seafood is approximately 5 ounces of raw seafood per week, which is only 63% of the American Heart Association's recommendation of 6 ounces cooked seafood or 8 ounces raw. Low seafood consumption can be explained in part by concerns and confusion about seafood safety, handling, and cooking. Many of these concerns result from in accurate and sensationalized media reports. American consumers also are confused by conflicting information from governmental agencies and private organizations.
Just look at the following recommendations:
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Keep fat intake to 2-35% of calories. Choose fats wisely from fish, nuts, and vegetable oils.
- American Heart Association: At least two 4-ounce servings (based on raw weight) or two 3-ounce servings (based on cooked weight) or fish per week.
- 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Two 4-ounce servings of fish per week.
- American Diabetes Association: Two to three servings of nonfried fish per week.
When the 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) prepared the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it did not include its suggestion to increase consumption of fatty fish to two servings per week (8ounces total, unspecified whether raw or cooked). The reason for their omission - competing benefits and benefits and risks associated with eating seafood - appears in the DGAC report.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends Americans eat at least two 4-ounce (raw weight) or 3-ounce (cooked weight) servings of seafood per week for the many important health benefits derived from the "good fats" found in seafood. The AHA emphasizes two servings of fatty fish per week.
The American Diabetes Association recommends two to three servings of nonfried fish per week but does not specify serving size or type of fish.
State and federal advisories warn consumers to avoid or limit eating certain species, depending on the location of the catch and the risk level of the consumer.
Benefits of seafood education
According to the Seafood Choices Alliance, a nonprofit organization, improving and maintaining health is the most significant factor consumers cite when considering their reasons for eating seafood. A complex informational environment influences food choice. Factors that influence choosing seafood are similar to choices of other foods, such as taste, price, convenience, and ease of preparation. Consumers of seafood do not think they have enough information about seafood:
- Where seafood comes from;
- Benefits and risks of eating seafood; and
- How to select, handle, store, and prepare seafood.
Increased knowledge can lead to better-informed consumers and increased consumption of seafood. An increase in knowledge does not ensure intended changes in consumption patterns, however, and dietary advice is but one factor influencing food choice.