Photo Credit: Kristin Brenemen on Flickr.com

Is your resolution in 2012 to live healthier and eat better? If so, you’re probably like millions of Americans whose eating habits have not been up to par. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, many Americans are not following Dietary Guidelines recommend for proper nutrition and critical to good health. The truth is, we could all do just a little bit better next year when it comes to our diet.

Respected registered dietitian, health coach and author, Tina Ruggiero, says you should start with increasing your servings of seafood. The United States Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates Americans eat approximately 3  1/2 ounces of seafood per week, nowhere near the recommended 2-3 servings (8-12oz.). Consumer survey data from SeaPak also found 91 percent of parents with children 12 years and younger say their children aren’t eating seafood twice a week.

Tina shares the top ten reasons why we should be stocking up on seafood and how to sneak it into your family’s weekly meals and snacks!

  1. The evidence is undeniable: Studies show eating 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, which provide an average of 250 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day of EPA and DHA, is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among people with and without pre-existing cardiovascular disease. A recent study also showed fish may help ward off other diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  1. Good for grownups and babies: For women who are pregnant and nursing, the nutritional value of seafood is critical during fetal growth and development, especially for eye and brain development.
  1. If you’re an expectant mommy, recent research shows omega-3 fatty acids may reduce pre-term labor, so it’s especially important to eat fish during this important time in your life.
  1. While experts recommend that you introduce fish after your child’s first birthday, advice about seafood consumption varies from country to country, and this advice is slowly changing in America.  If you lived in Asia or Scandinavia, for example, your little one would try fish before meat or chicken.  So, if you don’t have a family history of allergies and your 10- or 11-month old has a hearty appetite and an eager curiosity about food, introduce fish.  Cod, halibut and flounder are each mild-flavored and good choices.  Just make sure the fish is free from bones.
  1. While common stresses of new motherhood, namely lack of sleep and pain, can increase the risk of depression, fish may reduce this risk. Reason being, in the third trimester of pregnancy, inflammation levels increase.  Because seafood is anti-inflammatory, it is an effective, natural and safe way to combat depression.
  1. Seafood meals can be satisfying and help you shed pounds: Seafood is an excellent source of protein because it’s lean. Seafood can also be a great snack! Consider a tuna fish or salmon wrap made with dried cranberries, chopped apples, grated cheddar cheese and baby greens.
  1. Longing for lovely locks and smooth, healthy skin? Fish, like salmon, is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12 and iron, which helps support a healthy scalp (keeping hair looking its best!) and maintain healthy, glowing skin.
  1. Seafood can be a convenient and quickly prepared meal.  For example, place a 6-oz piece of salmon on a 12-inch by 12-inch piece of aluminum foil and crimp the edges so it looks like a little boat.  Add a few cherry tomatoes, pitted black olives and some basil leaves. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.  Add a squeeze of lemon, and toss the wedge in with the fish.  Next, wrap up the fish so you have a little packet, being sure the edges are tightly sealed, and the steam can’t escape.  Bake the fish for 10 minutes in a pre-heated 475 degree oven.  Serve with a salad and white wine.
  1. You don’t need to redo the menu: Beef burgers can become tuna burgers and chicken quesadillas can become canned tuna quesadillas.  You can grill whole fish or fillets instead of beef.  Seafood can be tossed with pasta for a change of pace, and cooked salmon can be scrambled into eggs instead of using ham.

For the more mature adult, regular seafood consumption may decrease the risk of ADHD, dementia and diabetes.

Thanks to Tina Ruggiero for contributing to Fitzness.com!