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Eat More Seafood to Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease

MEDIA RELEASE Sunday 7 May 2006

Eat More Seafood to Reduce Risk of Chronic Diseases

EAT more seafood -- that's a strong message from the Federal Government's just-released recommendations on reducing chronic disease risk.

Seafood Services Australia Managing Director Mr Ted Loveday has welcomed a recommendation for higher consumption of the Omega-3 oils found in seafood.

Mr Loveday said this was contained in a new 360-page guide to recommended dietary intakes (RDIs) from the National Health & Medical Research Council, "Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand", the first revision of RDIs since 1991 and the first time Omega-3 oils had been included.

"The Federal Government's new food recommendations recognise Omega-3 oils found most abundantly in fish and other seafood -- what are known as long-chain Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids -- as essential nutrients," Mr Loveday said.

"However, the National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has gone further than that by recommending specific intakes, levels far higher than the average Australian is eating at present. As part of the broader guidelines, NHMRC have made specific recommendations to reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Here, it suggests that men consume an average 610mg and women 430mg a day of long-chain (LC) Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids."

Mr Loveday said SSA, a national industry-government body working to highlight the health benefits of seafood, welcomed this top-level confirmation of the important role of Omega-3 oils in reducing disease risk.

"Community-wide consumption of seafood, particularly oily fish, three or more times a week would prevent thousands of premature deaths and save hundreds of millions of dollars in health costs every year," Mr Loveday said. "For example, in adults, the risk of serious illness involving heart attack, stroke, diabetes and bowel cancer, as well as depression and other mood disorders, can be reduced by seafood, and it also plays a very positive role in the health of infants.

"The NHMRC recommend replacing high-calorie, low-nutrient food and drink with LC Omega-3 rich foods, mainly fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and mullet. Although they do does not say how many times a week seafood should be eaten to achieve the recommended Omega-3 levels, it has been suggested by Australian researchers previously that four to five meals a week should be based on seafood, and a recent recommendation from the prestigious American Academy for the Advancement of Science was for 4-7 seafood meals every week."

Mr Loveday said seafood was by far the most abundant source of LC Omega-3 oils, with 100 grams of the average fish containing 210mg, oysters 150mg, prawns 120mg and lobster 105mg compared with just 22mg (twenty-two) in beef, 19mg in chicken, 18mg in lamb and virtually none in pork.

"Seafood is also the prime source of iodine, an essential element actually deficient in the average diet in some parts of Australia, the most abundant source of selenium, another essential element, and a rich source of the essential vitamins D and E plus, in fish like canned tuna and salmon with bones, a source of quality calcium," he said. "Beyond that, seafood is a terrific source of prime lean protein, very low in 'bad' fat like saturated fat but high in the Omega-3 'good oils', and with a high protein-to-calorie ratio, important for everyone wanting quality protein but conscious of low-fat, low-calorie eating.

"Also, while some food manufacturers are adding Omega-3 oils to processed foods, some of these are the less effective short-chain oils rather than the recommended long-chain Omega-3 oils found in seafood. There is even work to genetically engineer production of Omega-3 oils in plants and animals where it doesn't occur naturally. By contrast, Omega-3 oil in seafood is a completely natural product, supplied just the way nature intended.


For information on the recently-released NHMRC guidelines, "Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand", see

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