Babies love salmon!  Credit:  babysland.com

Seafood got a huge boost this week with the unveiling of new Dietary Guidelines through 2025 that emphasize Americans need to eat more fish. And for the first time since the guidelines began in 1985, recommendations focus on pregnant women and infants and toddlers.

They say that seafood is the only food rich in omega-3 DHA, which during pregnancy enhances a baby’s brain and eye development. Dr. Tom Brenna, professor of pediatrics and nutrition at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas.

“Many of us believe that omega 3s, particularly the ones rich in DHA are important for continuing development of the neural system and of the eye.  The brain, the retina in the eye are really omega 3 organs. You can say as calcium is to the bones, omega 3 is to the brain.”

The new diet guidelines, provided every five years by the  United States Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services,  also recommend that babies should eat seafood starting at six months of age because it is also loaded with  zinc, iron, iodine, selenium and numerous other vitamins and minerals vital to healthy development.

And by introducing seafood early, it can help shape healthy food choices and turn kids into lifelong fish lovers. Tom Brenna –

“In nutrition circles, for 30 years we have been discussing that when we transition a baby or toddler, usually between six months and 2 years, from breast milk or formula that contains omega 3s and DHA, they are transitioning to foods that have hardly any omega threes at all, and no fish.   We should be weaning kids to the foods that are going to be important throughout their lives. And this may be a reason why they are not consuming seafood when they get older.”

The National Fisheries Institute points out that 94% of American kids and 80% of adults do not eat the long recommended two seafood meals per week. Brenna agrees that the biggest nutritional group missing the mark is US baby food makers.

“To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what the problem is. It seems like it’s a consumer demand question – companies sell what the consumers demand and apparently we have not done the kind of job that we should have in educating consumers in what they ought to be demanding for their kids.  We don’t have a good a way of getting that word out and getting people the notion that it can be such a delicious part of meals. Maybe we should have a contest to find a nice tag line that would identify seafood in the same way as Got Milk or Beef, It’s what’s for dinner.”

Brenna urges seafood advocates to speak up.

 “If the seafood industry sits quietly I think that it’s going to let this opportunity pass, both for the industry itself, but also for the health of all Americans. And so it’s really incumbent upon the industry and those of us who care.”  

 

 

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