U.S. government: Eat fish twice a week

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
January 30, 2011

For the first time, the U.S. government is advising all Americans, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, to eat seafood at least twice a week for heart and brain benefits. Previously, the twice-a-week recommendation was limited to heart patients.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S Department of Health and Human Services released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as required by Congress every five years. The guidelines serve as the basis for federal nutrition policy.

In the guidelines, the agencies said: “Moderate evidence shows that consumption of about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, which provide an average consumption of 250 milligrams per day of EPA and DHA, is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease.”

They continued: “In addition to the health benefits for the general public, the nutritional value of seafood is of particular importance during fetal growth and development, as well as in early infancy and childhood. 

In a report last June, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee declared that Americans eat too little seafood and should be encouraged to eat more for better brain development in babies and heart health in adults. The committee, made up of more than a dozen nutrition experts, was tasked with recommending changes to the dietary guidelines for Americans.

“Consumption of two servings of seafood per week … is associated with reduced cardiac mortality from [coronary heart disease] or sudden death in persons with and without [cardiovascular disease],” said the report.

Jennifer McGuire, the National Fisheries Institute’s registered dietitian, said the mainstream media’s coverage of the recommendation may be even more beneficial than the federal nutrition policy itself. “We know the media is the No. 1 source of nutritional information for consumers,” she told SeafoodSource on Monday. “Now there’s clear, undisputed recommendations for the media to stick to.”

McGuire added that the new dietary guidelines may lead the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Environmental Protection Agency to change their seafood-consumption advisory for methylmercury, which warns pregnant and breastfeeding women to limit seafood intake to 12 ounces per week.

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