Traditionally, Asian, Mediterranean and Greenland Eskimo populations have a higher life expectancy than populations in other parts of the world. What sets these communities apart? Some experts say a diet rich in seafood.
“Studying populations such as the Alaskan and Greenland Inuit, who frequently eat fatty fish or marine animals rich in Omega-3’s has taught us a great deal,” says nutrition scientist Dr. Joyce Nettleton. “Traditionally these native people have had very little cardiovascular disease or diabetes.”
Alaska seafood is high in protein and low in saturated fat, making it a welcome addition to a healthy diet. Fish nutrients are said to be particularly beneficial. Alaska fish species are suitable for grilling, broiling, sauteing, baking, poaching, steaming and smoking. Even canned seafood, like Alaska salmon, packs a healthy punch.
Because Alaska is located thousands of miles from large sources of pollution, its waters are among the cleanest in the world. Therefore, Alaska fish nutrients can be consumed without worry about contaminating the body. Alaska fish species are rich in essential vitamins, including vitamins E, C, D and A. Some species, like cod and tuna, are particularly high in vitamin E, an important antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Minerals contained in Alaska fish species include zinc, iron, calcium and selenium.
The importance of Omega 3 fatty acids, contained in large amounts in Alaska Salmon, rainbow trout, sardines, mackerel and herring, has garnered a lot of attention in recent years. The American Heart Association, in 2002, strengthened its recommendation about consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids, urging Americans to consume at least two servings of fish per week.
The fish nutrients contained in Omega 3 fatty acids have a host of beneficial effects. Omega 3 oils are shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, inflammatory processes and certain cancers. Research has also shown a link between the consumption of Omega 3-rich foods and improvements or prevention of ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, arthritis, asthma, certain kinds of mental illness, depression and lupus erythematosus. Pregnant women would also be interested to know that an Omega 3 derivative called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can assist with brain development in very young children.