“Make Every Bite Count” is the theme of the recently released Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Turns out that more of those bites, especially for expectant moms and young children, should come from the ocean.
The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, who develop the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are also touting the importance of seafood for optimal early childhood development. The agencies renewed their recommendation that eating a variety of cooked seafood two-three times each week will help expectant moms consume enough necessary nutrients.
And, for the first time since the 1985 edition, the guidelines include nutritional recommendations for infants and toddlers. Introduce seafood to babies at around six months of age, they advise.
Packed with omega-3s, iron, vitamins B and D, and protein, seafood is a nutrient-dense food. The high nutritional content supports strong bones, brain function, the immune system and a healthy heart for people of all ages.
Feeding infants seafood provides them with critical nutrients that are often lacking in their diets. It can also help shape their lifelong taste preferences, putting them on the road to healthy eating habits that will benefit them for the rest of their lives. Children of moms who ate seafood during pregnancy had an average IQ eight points higher than the children of moms who did not eat seafood, according to a recent study.
In the past, mixed messages about seafood have confused expectant moms on the issue of seafood consumption. The new guidelines, however, reaffirm seafood has a necessary place within a balanced diet.
Even though the recommended weekly seafood consumption target is just eight-12 ounces, nearly 90% of Americans eat less than that. But, hopefully, the new guidelines will encourage them to reconsider those habits.