The Guidelines also underscore the importance for pregnant and breastfeeding women to eat more seafood to improve babies’ health. While most Americans eat an adequate amount of total protein foods, nearly all eat far too little seafood—the average American eats one serving of fish per week, while the average pregnant woman eats half a serving per week.
To make the shift to eat more seafood and reap its health benefits, the Guidelines suggest choosing fish like a salmon steak or tuna sandwich in place of meat or poultry twice each week.
“Seafood is rich in nutrients most of us don’t get enough of like omega 3s, vitamin B12, iron and vitamin D,” said Gabriela Siegel, MD, Atlanta Women’s Obstetrics and Gynecology.
“I look forward to continuing to work with my patients to come up with simple ways they can shift to seafood twice a week so they don’t miss out on the heart and weight benefits for themselves and brain development boost for their babies.”
At a time when Americans are told to limit so many foods including popular proteins, seafood is among the handful of foods Americans are encouraged to eat more often. An underlying premise of the Dietary Guidelines is that nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods. All forms of foods, including fresh, canned, dried and frozen, can be included in healthy eating patterns.
“Many people think of fish as a center-of-the-plate protein, but it can also be an interesting ingredient,” said Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, dietitian with the National Fisheries Institute.
“Think shrimp pasta or tuna and avocado dip with whole grain crackers as easy and accessible options to incorporate into meals at least twice a week.”
Eating more seafood to meet the new Dietary Guidelines can be accomplished by:
- Swapping out traditional mealtime proteins with seafood – modify familiar recipes by replacing chicken or beef with seafood. Chicken quesadillas become canned tuna quesadillas and beef or turkey burgers become salmon burgers.
- Round-the-clock options – seafood is no longer just a choice for lunch or dinner; it can be a healthy part of snacks, appetizers and breakfast.
- Keeping it convenient – fresh, frozen and canned seafood are all healthy, nutrient-rich options.
You can view the full dietary guidelines, here.