Getting Hooked On Seafood

How does this year's National Spelling Bee champion spell success? S-E-A-F-O-O-D. Champion speller Evan O'Dorney has a unique pre-competition ritual-he enjoys eating a tuna fish sandwich. He told reporters he believes fish is "brain food" that helps him excel in academics.

Recent studies show that O'Dorney may be on to something, as researchers now say seafood has a number of nutritional benefits, particularly for children and pregnant women.

Still, most kids-and most adults-don't eat enough seafood. Recently, the Universities of Delaware and Rhode Island reported that only 20 percent of Americans meet the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommendation of two servings of fish or seafood per week.

Child-Friendly Nutrition

So how can you get children to eat more seafood? Try tuna sandwiches made from canned tuna. Rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients linked to brain and heart health, tuna sandwiches are something you can make with your children and have a little fun by mixing in different ingredients each time such as celery, onion, mayonnaise, milk and cheese.

Packing A Nutritional Punch

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, doctors at Harvard University found that eating seafood twice a week may reduce the risk of death from heart attacks by 36 percent and the overall rate of death by 17 percent. A British study published in the prestigious journal The Lancet goes even further. In a study of 11,000 mothers, researchers found that those who ate seafood more than three or four times a week during pregnancy had children who were more developmentally advanced and showed better verbal communication, motor coordination and social skills. The study reports that advice to limit seafood consumption can reduce the intake of nutrients necessary for optimum neurological development for children, which echoes reports that lower omega-3 fatty acid intakes in pregnancy predict lower verbal IQ levels.

Seafood Made Easy

All this scientific evidence suggests that it is essential to include seafood in a balanced diet throughout your life-especially during pregnancy and in childhood.

There's something for every taste and budget. Experts say canned tuna is a simple way to meet nutritional guidelines for seafood. It's tasty, packed with lean protein and, compared to some seafood, is easy to prepare.

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About The Author, Wendy Mitchell
For more information, visit Tuna fish sandwiches are a fun and easy way to get youngsters to eat more seafood.