A joint blog by ASC and the Seafood Nutrition Partnership
It’s hard at the moment to focus on health problems that aren’t you-know-what, but taking care of our long-term health has never been more important – and World Heart Day is a great opportunity to look at how our diets can make a big difference to our health and wellbeing.
World Heart Day is celebrated every year on 29 September and every year has a different focus, but the message is always the same: look after your heart to help drive down cardiovascular disease, which remains the number one cause of death around the world.
At ASC and the Seafood Nutrition Partnership, World Heart Day is a vital opportunity to remind people of the many health benefits of regularly eating seafood, which has been shown to have numerous benefits to our cardiovascular health (among a lot of other benefits).
The American Heart Association (AHA) has found that coronary heart disease is 90% preventable with proper diet and exercise. This is why AHA is one of many organisations that specifically recommend the regular eating of fish and shellfish – ideally at least twice a week. This provides you with about 250 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids a day, and that has been linked to lower rate of heart attacks and other cardiac issues – by about 30-50%. These fatty acids help ease inflammation and prevent the formation of potentially dangerous blood clots. Seafood is more than just omega-3s and acts like a multivitamin with rich sources of vitamins B and D, iron, zinc, selenium and magnesium– and fortunately there are plenty of delicious ways to enjoy it!
Another benefit of seafood is that it can be a useful replacement for red meat, which is consistently linked to higher rates of heart disease. If you want to cut down on your red meat intake but are struggling, replacing it with fish could be a way of still getting your protein fix while also giving your heart a helping hand.
We understand cooking seafood can be a little intimidating and many people only treat themselves to fish when they’re at a restaurant. But there’s no reason to deny yourself the enjoyment and benefits of seafood – the SNP website includes not only a big selection of simple recipes to try at home, it also includes handy information about what to look for when you’re shopping for fish, and answers frequently asked questions and misconceptions. And don’t forget, there are plenty of people out there who will be delighted to help you start eating more seafood, whether that’s your local fishmonger or the staff at your supermarket’s fish counter.
But there’s another aspect to eating more seafood that’s equally as important and can also seem daunting to navigate – how do you know where your seafood came from and whether it was produced responsibly?
Eating more seafood for your long-term health is a fantastic idea, but no one wants to do that if it’s going to cost the long-term health of the planet’s ecosystems and biodiversity, or the health and wellbeing of the workers and communities producing the seafood. That’s why at ASC we make it easy for conscientious consumers to know what they’re eating.
Only farms that minimise their environmental and social impacts can become ASC certified – and to demonstrate this they must undergo extensive audits, which reoccur on an annual basis. Farms don’t just have to make sure environmental issues like water quality, medicine use, and biodiversity, are managed responsibly – they also have to pay and treat their workers fairly, and be conscientious neighbours to local communities.
During this strange year, we’ve had the chance to rethink a lot of things. Covid-19 has also been a stark reminder of how interconnected seemingly disparate health issues are – poor cardiovascular health can put us at greater risk of a more severe illness from coronavirus. At the same time, it’s been a chance to stop and think about the way we produce food as societies, and the sometimes unintended consequences that irresponsible production can have.
This World Heart Day is an opportunity to do something about both of these issues. Treat yourself, and your heart, to some healthy seafood – and look for the ASC logo to make sure you’re rewarding responsible farmers and encouraging other farmers to follow suit.