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NFI Forum: Let’s help consumers ‘Catch the Wave!’

What better time than National Seafood Month to
    educate consumers about incorporating more fish into their
    diet?
By John Connelly
September 01, 2006

Good nutrition is an important issue to many Amer­icans. The most significant message our industry can send them during National Seafood Month in October is that nutrient-dense, fish-based meals can help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The proteins, vitamins and fatty acids found in fish and shellfish are proven contributors to improved cardiovascular and neurological health. 

An area of great interest when it comes to the health benefits of this protein is fish oils, especially omega-3 fatty acids. Consumers appear to be getting the message about the importance of omega-3s to their well-being.

The 2006 International Food Information Council's Foundation Food & Health Survey found that 70 percent of Americans view fish oils as "somewhat or extremely healthful," with nearly 60 percent believing the same about omega-3 fatty acids specifically.

What's remarkable is not only how readily consumers can identify these "good" fats, but how many people want to increase their intake of omega-3s. About half of the 1,000 adults surveyed intend to consume more omega-3 fatty acids.

What better time than National Seafood Month to educate consumers about incorporating more fish into their diet? The National Fisheries Institute is working with its members to help them communicate a variety of issues to their customers, the public and the media.

The greatest resource we have is the NFI Web site, www.About­Seafood.com, which has a searchable database of healthy recipes, nutrition information and a members-only Seafood Month Tool Kit featuring new marketing and media-relations tools.

Decades of research reveal a powerful connection between seafood consumption and health, especially in relation to the heart. A well-known, long-term study published in the Lancet indicated that omega-3 fatty acids aid in reducing risk of death from a heart attack.

Another study from a respected Greek university indicated that men and women who regularly eat seafood show a lower risk of heart disease due to a decrease in the 
inflammatory markers associa-
ted with the development of the 
 disease.

Myriad other studies have shown similar results and highlight the numerous health benefits of regularly consuming seafood high in omega-3 fatty acids.

We have posted summaries of these studies to our Web site so that journalists and others may more easily understand some of the complicated science behind the health benefits of fish.

It is essential that we continue to reinforce the idea that fish is not only heart-healthy but important for proper brain growth throughout the life cycle. It also shows promise in areas like mental health and Alzheimer's disease.

An informed, educated and involved consumer will sustain the seafood industry and its products well into the future.

Let's view National Seafood Month as an opportunity to encourage Americans to "Catch the Wave!" and make informed meal choices that include more fish.

 

John Connelly is president of the National Fisheries Institute in McLean, Va., at www.nfi.org

 

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