Seafood: What Is It And Is It Healthy?

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  June 6, 2022

Always the latest smoking tips & tricks?

Subscribe to THE ESSENTIAL newsletter for aspiring pitmasters

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Seafood is a popular meal choice, but many people are unsure of what exactly it is. Seafood is any species of fish or shellfish found in the sea. It’s healthy, but there are some things you need to watch out for.

Overall, seafood is a healthy dietary choice. It’s a great source of protein, healthy fats, and many important nutrients. Seafood can be a great meal option for people with different diets, including those who follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

In this article, I’ll look at what seafood is, its health benefits, and any concerns you may want to consider.

What is seafood

Health Benefits of Seafood


Seafood is a real powerhouse when it comes to nutrition! It’s packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. A 3-ounce serving of cooked clams can give you:

  • Over 3,500% of your daily value of Vitamin B12
  • 99% of your daily value of Selenium
  • 21% of your daily value of Zinc
  • 13% of your daily value of Iron

Plus, a half fillet of wild-caught salmon can give you:

  • 196% of your daily value of Vitamin B12
  • 131% of your daily value of Selenium
  • 85% of your daily value of Vitamin B6
  • 21% of your daily value of Potassium


Seafood is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids, like EPA and DHA. These fatty acids help with nerve cell function and inflammation regulation. So, if you want to keep your heart and brain healthy, make sure you get your daily dose of seafood!

Disease Risk Reduction

Seafood is so good for you, it can even reduce your risk of certain diseases! A 2020 review of 34 studies found that people who ate more fish had a lower risk of coronary heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, depression, and liver cancer. Plus, they had a lower risk of death from all causes. Another 2020 review of 40 studies showed that higher fish consumption was linked to a lower occurrence of CHD and death from CHD. So, if you want to reduce your risk of disease, make sure to get your 60 grams of fish per day!

What are the Potential Drawbacks of Eating Seafood?

Health Concerns

  • Fried seafood can be a health hazard, as it creates compounds like heterocyclic amines (HCAs), acrolein, aldehydes, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are linked to cancer.
  • Eating fried fish frequently is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, including lung and prostate cancer.
  • Eating fried or salted foods frequently can lead to other health issues, such as weight gain, high blood pressure, and more.
  • Certain types of seafood are high in mercury, which can cause health issues if too much accumulates in your tissues.

Environmental and Ethical Issues

  • The demand for seafood has led to overfishing and has destroyed marine environments worldwide.
  • Commercial fishing vessels often use irresponsible methods of fishing, such as trawling, which not only destroys the delicate habitats on the ocean floor, but can lead to mass bycatch.
  • Human activity has caused a buildup of microplastic in the marine environment, which can be ingested by eating seafood.

Incorporating Seafood Into Your Diet

Choosing Sustainable Seafood

  • If you’re looking to get your seafood fix, you gotta make sure it’s sustainable! Clams and Arctic char from Canada caught by barriers and fences are the way to go.
  • Don’t forget to check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch online search tool to make sure you’re not eating any overfished species.

Cooking Seafood

  • Don’t deep-fry or pan-fry your seafood – that’s so last year! Baking, sautéing, and steaming are the way to go.
  • And don’t forget to pair your seafood with other nutritious foods like veggies, beans, and whole grains.

High Omega-3 Fish

  • Get the most out of your seafood by choosing fatty fish that are high in omega-3s. Pink and sockeye salmon and Atlantic and Pacific herring are all great choices.
  • But watch out for high mercury fish like tilefish, shark, king mackerel, marlin, swordfish, and bigeye tuna – they’re best avoided.

Nutritional Benefits of Seafood


If you’re looking for a way to get your protein fix, seafood is the way to go! It’s a great source of protein that helps build and maintain muscle mass. Plus, it’ll keep you full for longer, so you won’t be reaching for snacks all the time. The FDA recommends eating at least 8 ounces of seafood per week.

Fatty Acids

Seafood is an awesome source of omega-3 fatty acids, which your body doesn’t produce on its own. Eating fatty fish like salmon, herring, trout, and sardines can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can reduce your risk of heart disease, dementia, and certain types of cancer. Plus, during pregnancy and breastfeeding, eating cooked fish can help your child absorb omega-3s, which can support their brain development.

Vitamins and Minerals

Eating more seafood can help you increase your intake of vitamins and minerals that are often lacking in the average diet. Here’s what you can get from seafood:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Selenium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • Vitamin D

What Are the Potential Downsides of Eating Seafood?

Moderation is Key

  • Too much of a good thing can be bad, and that’s true for seafood too!
  • Eating fried seafood too often can increase your risk of lung and prostate cancer.
  • But don’t worry, a little indulgence here and there won’t hurt.

Watch Out for Mercury

  • Mercury levels in seafood depend on the age and size of the fish, and the water it lived in.
  • Too much mercury can lead to mercury poisoning, so don’t go overboard with your seafood consumption.
  • Stick to the recommended 8 ounces per week to stay safe.

Environmental Concerns

  • With all the plastic waste in the ocean, fish are ingesting microplastics.
  • These microplastics can’t be broken down by the body, so they accumulate in your organs.
  • Choose your fish wisely to limit your exposure to microplastics.
  • Overfishing is also a problem, so prioritize sustainable fishing and fish farming practices.

Adding Seafood to Your Diet

Opt for Sustainable Fish

  • If you can, try to get your fish from sustainable sources. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to find the best seafood that’s fished or farmed with the environment in mind.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy frozen! It’s usually frozen at its peak freshness and is a more economical option if you buy it in bulk.

Avoid Fish High in Mercury

  • Fish that are highest in mercury include shark, tuna, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel. Check out the FDA mercury level guidelines if you’re ever unsure.

Canned and Pasta Options

  • Canned seafood is a great way to add an extra protein punch to your salads and sandwiches. Mix it with some mayo or Greek yogurt for a tasty fish salad.
  • Toss some shrimp in a pan with garlic and oil and add it to your pasta dishes for a seafood-filled meal.


In conclusion, seafood is a great way to get essential nutrients and can have a positive impact on your health. Eating seafood regularly can help reduce the risk of various health conditions, including heart disease, depression, and liver cancer. So, if you’re looking for a way to improve your diet, seafood is definitely worth considering!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.