While most people on the Paleo diet are very conscious of where their meat comes from, they look for grass fed meats that have been ethically farmed. With seafood the same consideration is necessary, and you need to look for types of fish that are safe from toxins, are sustainable and healthy to eat. Seafood is a fantastic source of protein and a great way to get omega 3 fatty acids along with iodine and selenium, but not all fish are created equal.
Here is just one example: Salmon is on almost every list of superfoods you will find across the internet, but Atlantic salmon which is mostly farmed has a high mercury content and lower omega 3 fatty acids. West coast salmon is wild caught, and has a better nutritional profile. Some seafood that is very healthy and delicious, but they are on the endangered species list so sustainability is an issue.
Why You Should Be Eating Seafood
Seafood has a pretty impressive nutritional profile with vitamins like A, C and E and even a little vitamin D. Some of the other nutrients from seafood are of course omega 3 fatty acids, along with iodine and selenium. Omega 3s keep your heart healthy while iodine and selenium with the brain, fish really is “brain food.”
Iodine is not readily available in other foods and it is important for brain function, thyroid function and pregnant women need to make sure they are getting enough, it will help prevent birth defects. The good news is that iodine is readily available from any type of saltwater fish, shellfish or mollusk. Most people get an adequate amount from plain old table salt, as it is iodized. When you start following a Paleo diet and stop eating processed foods your salt consumption drops, if you don’t salt your food you may not be getting enough, thus seafood is so important.
Selenium also works with your thyroid and while you can get it also from Brazil nuts. Id you have a nut allergy or maybe not such a fan of Brazil nuts, then seafood is the way to go. Now most people are aware of fish as a source of omega 3s, and you need them to balance the omega 6 fatty acid and they have been shown to help with heart health. That being said, you do not need to eat salmon every day; a few times a week is more than enough.
Safety and Sustainability
With the overwhelming amount of pollution in our oceans along with overfishing, seafood have become subject to toxins just like factory farmed animals. Fish farming may have seemed like a viable solution to the problem but it hasn’t worked out that way. Most fish feed off smaller fish, pushing the problem down the food chain. Fish also travel while farmed fish may not, and their environment becomes polluted even further. Farmed fish also have shown to have higher concentrations of mercury.
You should try and buy your seafood locally as much as possible. There are several resources on the web you can use to make sure which types are sustainable and healthy for you. Cold water fish tends to be healthier so try some new kinds of fish like mackerel or herring. There are tons of recipes you can try to incorporate more seafood into your Paleo diet.