Introducing a variety of seafood into your diet is both good for you and for the ecosystem. Here, we’ll explore why it is important to think about seafood diversity.
When someone mentions fish or seafood, your mind might automatically go to salmon, shrimp, and tuna. Those three species make up more than 50% of the seafood we eat. But there is so much more available! There are so many delicious options for us to choose from, with over 500 varieties of seafood. This variety and abundance of seafood is also directly linked to sustainability, making it a healthier planet for everyone.
Healthier for us
All seafood includes vital nutrients needed for overall health and wellness, such as omega-3 fatty acids, iron, B-6, B-12, selenium, and protein. However each species has different amounts of these nutrients. Eating a variety of foods, from each food group, allows for us to get a mix of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants while creating a more exciting plate for each meal so we don’t get stuck in a food rut. Variety within your diet is truly the spice of life!
For example, some fish are really high in omega-3s, such as salmon, trout, mackerel, and sablefish or black cod. These are amazing options, but you might be more in the mood for something lighter, like cod, mahi mahi or hake. Those may not be as high in omega-3s, but they have the benefits of being some of the most lean sources of protein available. Adding diverse seafood to your plate at least twice a week would be an easy and healthy way to add these nutrients into your diet.
Healthier for the oceans
Seafood diversity on your plate helps regulate biodiversity. By eating a variety of fish and shellfish, you are relieving the pressure on one species or one fishery.
You can also support our nation’s sustainable seafood industry—and the working waterfront communities that rely on it—by cooking with fish harvested in the United States. U.S. fishermen catch some amazingly tasty product, and there is an abundance of these species available if there was a market for them. For these products, you typically have to go to a local seafood market or out to your favorite local restaurant. These include Acadian redfish, Pacific rockfish, opah, dover sole, mackerel, swordfish, blue catfish, dogfish, porgy and more!
How you can add more seafood diversity
It’s definitely easier to add more seafood diversity to your meals than you might think. For instance, NOAA Fisheries shared a great article highlighting “Eight Delicious Fish You May Not Have Tried,” proving that just because you haven’t tried it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! The blog, tied to data from Fishwatch.gov, gives the fish species recommendations along with quick and easy recipes for each fish option, providing a complete guide you can reference when trying something new. Because there are so many great seafood choices, each species offers a unique taste profile, which plays into the versatility of each fish. Each has a different texture and flavor, creating a fun, yet easy, way to incorporate diverse seafood options into your favorite everyday recipes.
To keep your seafood consumption sustainable, we suggest that you ask questions when shopping at the grocery store or local vendor. Make sure you know where your seafood is coming from and don’t be afraid to get more information from the employees at the store or your server at a restaurant. If you’re ever in doubt, buy U.S.-harvested seafood because the United States is a global leader in responsibly managed fisheries and sustainable seafood.
For more information on sustainable seafood sources, check out our sustainability page and FAQs and happy eating!
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