A study from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, which analyzed 74,000 adults over 24 years, found improving the quality of your diet to include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fish and less red and processed meats and sugary beverages, may significantly reduce risk of premature death.
The study, which looked at diet over a 12-year period (1986-1998) and the subject’s risk of dying over the next 12 years (1998-2010), found that increasing healthy foods in your diet is associated with lower risk of total and cardiovascular death. The Mediterranean Diet or DASH Diet were considered to be best examples.
The researchers found that swapping one serving of red or processed meat daily for a better option was linked to an 8% to 17% decrease in risk of death. Among those who had relatively unhealthy diets at the beginning of the study but whose diet scores improved the most, the risk of death in subsequent years was also significantly reduced.
Lead author Mercedes Sotos-Priet says that, “Our study indicates that even modest improvements in diet quality could meaningfully influence mortality risk and conversely, worsening diet quality may increase the risk.”
The study was published in the July 13, 2017 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
SNP Executive Director Linda Cornish caught up with Hugh Welsh (pictured), the new Chairman for Seafood Nutrition Partnership, on his commitment to eating seafood as his main protein source in 2017.
Linda Cornish (LC): Hugh, congratulations on being the incoming Chairman for Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP). We are thrilled to have you lead us as we expand SNP’s work. You are taking your new role very seriously as I saw your message to your Twitter followers that you will be eating seafood as your main source of protein in the New Year. Can you tell us what prompted you to adopt a pescetarian diet? Is this part of an overall wellness regiment prescribed by your doctor?
Hugh Welsh (HW): Thanks Linda. As you know I joined the Seafood Nutrition Partnership Board of Directors about a year ago as I believe in its non-profit mission to effectively address the public health crisis Americans are facing. Although I strongly support the mission I actually had not been eating much seafood prior to my time with SNP. You see, growing up my summer jobs were working on fishing boats off the coast of New Jersey. After working on the fishing boats I didn’t really associate the smell of fish with something appetizing. After joining the SNP Board, I saw that all of the board members chose fish or shellfish when we dined together, so I thought I would give it a try. I realized that seafood was pretty good and quite frankly delicious.
I work pretty hard and spend a lot of time traveling all over the world. This leaves very little time for exercise and for me meant I had a very poor diet. The result was I gained a good deal of weight. Additionally, I was tested and learned that my blood cholesterol levels were too high and my Omega 3 levels too low. I was setting myself up for some bad health outcomes down the road and decided it was time for a change. I worked with DSM’s Wellness consultants to come up with an overall plan regarding nutrition, exercise, meditation and sleep. I thought this would be a good opportunity to walk the talk and try a pescetarian diet.
Hugh tries different seafood dishes on his new pescetarian diet.
LC: You’ve dedicated your life’s work to advocating for health and nutrition for the global population, and you lead the North American region of a multinational company with a strong portfolio in human nutrition. Was there a particular time or event that triggered your decision to eat seafood as your main protein?
Today, the USDA and HHS announced the release of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA).
These guidelines are designed to encourage Americans to follow a lifetime of healthy eating in order to prevent chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes. The 2015 DGA recommend a shift towards healthy eating patterns, which include a variety of protein foods including more seafood. The general population should eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week with the aim to take in at least 250 mg per day of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week for omega-3 fatty acid DHA to improve infant health outcomes.
Author: Linda Cornish, Executive Director, Seafood Nutrition Partnership
Heart disease is very real to me as it runs in my family. My mother is a stroke survivor, and I am the only one in my immediate family without high blood pressure.
This is a very personal issue for many of us as heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans and we all have someone close to us at risk of this silent killer. Yet many of us do not know about one of the simplest dietary changes a person can make for heart health: eating seafood twice a week.
The staff, Board of Directors, and chef ambassadors of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership invite the public to join us in sharing the health impacts they have achieved through the Healthy Heart Pledge. We invite you to share your story!
Seafood Nutrition Partnership is a 501(c)3 with a mission to inspire a healthier America through partnerships and outreach to raise awareness about the essential nutritional benefits of eating seafood.
© 2018 Seafood Nutrition Partnership. All Rights Reserved.