Seafood Preparation and Nutrition

The health benefits of seafood are becoming increasingly well known. Research scientists and health organizations worldwide, including the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and the American Heart Association, recommend adding seafood to the diet as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA+DHA). Omega-3 fatty acids are compounds that have been shown to be beneficial to heart health and early neurological development. For more information on omega-3s click the following links:

Consumers

Practitioners


There are lots of ways to add the healthy benefits of seafood to your diet. The many types of seafood make it a versatile ingredient that can easily be added to your favorite dish. Seafood is low in fat and cholesterol and rich in protein, vitamins and minerals; although, some popular preparation methods for seafood can add unwanted fat, cholesterol, or sodium to the diet.

Fat and Fatty Acids

The U.S. dietary guidelines suggest reducing fat intake to 20-35% of your total daily calories with less than 10% coming from saturated fats. Seafood is naturally low in total fat, and the fat it does contain is healthy polyunsaturated fat. Breading and frying is a popular way of preparing seafood products, but the oil can be absorbed into the raw product causing an increase in total fat and calories. The chart below shows how breading and frying seafood can double the calories in a 3-ounce serving. Frying or deep-frying does not just increase total fat; it can change the amount of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids in each serving. Health organizations suggest eating seafood twice per week to get an average daily intake of 250 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet. Frying can cause these beneficial omega-3 fatty acids to dissolve in the cooking oil. It can even change the amount of each omega-3 fatty acid present, creating a less healthy ratio. Instead of serving seafood fried, there are preparation methods that can maintain its healthy benefits, including: poaching, steaming, baking, broiling, stir-frying and microwaving. Seafood is a healthier choice when prepared in a low-fat recipe, and it is easy to learn how to prepare seafood and modify recipes to retain these healthy benefits. There are numerous sources of low-fat healthy recipes including those at the National Fisheries Institute's website.

Preparation of Seafood: Impact on Calories, 3 ounce serving



 

Cholesterol

As part of a healthy diet, the USDA has suggested in their dietary guidelines that Americans limit the amount of cholesterol in their diet. Both finfish and shellfish are naturally low in cholesterol and can help keep your daily consumption of cholesterol below the recommended 300 milligrams per day. It is estimated that seafood only contributes 3.4% of the cholesterol in the American diet. One 3-ounce serving of finfish has between 30-90 milligrams of cholesterol and shellfish has between 80-160 milligrams. The major source of cholesterol in the U.S. is from egg yolks, dairy products and meats. To avoid adding unwanted cholesterol to seafood recipes, sauces using eggs and dairy can be substituted with wine or vegetable-based sauces. In the past it was thought shellfish were much higher in cholesterol, but recently new analytical techniques have identified most of what was thought to be cholesterol was actually other forms of sterols.

Sodium

The U.S. FDA and the Institute of Medicine suggest lowering sodium intake in the diet for better health. In 2010, the U.S Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee lowered the suggested daily intake of sodium from 2,300 milligrams per day to 1,500 milligrams per day. There is also evidence that lower sodium intakes are related to lower blood pressure.  Sodium in raw seafood is relatively low, but can increase rapidly during processing and preparation. Processed seafood products that have higher levels of sodium include those that are: canned, smoked/dried, and kippered (see table). Sodium may also be added when some raw products are soaked in a solution or brine prior to freezing to reduce water loss upon thawing. For example, raw sockeye salmon has 114 milligrams of sodium in a 3-ounce serving, but sodium levels can increase to 306 milligrams when canned and 510 milligrams when smoked. Many canned and processed products have been reformulated and are now available in a low-sodium form. Sodium may also be added to seafood and other meat products that are injected with flavor enhancing agents, preservatives or marinades. It is important to check nutrition labels of products and consider how it will be served to assure you are gaining all the healthy advantages of seafood while maintaining suggested sodium levels. To season your fish and shellfish without the adding sodium, consider using lemon, dill, fennel, and cilantro for fish fillets; and basil, chives, oregano, thyme, and rosemary for shellfish.

Vitamins and Minerals

Seafood is a good source of important vitamins (A, B-complex, and D) and minerals (selenium, iodine, iron, and zinc) that have been linked to various health benefits. Cooking food can sometimes causes a breakdown of nutrients, but generally the greatest loss is water. With most cooking methods, vitamin retention in cooked seafood is greater than 85%, and retention of important minerals is 100%.

Healthy Seafood Preparation


Nutrient Healthy Preparation Use in Limited Amounts
Fat & Fatty Acids Grilling, poaching, steaming, baking, broiling, and stir-frying Breaded and fried/deep fried
Cholesterol Use sauces that are wine or vegetable-based Sauces using eggs or dairy
Sodium Use lemon and other herbs, such as dill, fennel, cilantro for fish fillets; and basil, chives, oregano, thyme, and rosemary for shellfish Marinades or large amounts of smoked fish


Seafood Nutrient Table

The table below contains nutrient information for popular raw, cooked and processed seafood products, including total fat, sodium, and fatty acid content. All values are presented in 3-ounce portions, but keep in mind that serving sizes can range from 3 to 8-ounces depending on the recipe and individual preferences. A 3-ounce serving of fish is the size of a deck of cards. Nutrient information for other seafood products can be found at this USDA website.

Salmon Nutrient Content

Seafood
(3 ounces)
Calories
(kcal)
Total Fat
(g)
Saturated Fat
(g)
Omega-3's, 
EPA+DHA
(mg)
Sodium
(mg)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Raw Atlantic Salmon 177 11.41 2.59 1671 50 47
Baked Atlantic Salmon 175 10.50 2.12 1825 52 54
Raw Chinook Salmon 152 8.87 2.63 1659 40 42
Smoked Chinook Salmon 99 3.67 0.79 383 666 20
Kippered Chinook Salmon 178 11.01 2.07 1062 740 57
Raw Sockeye Salmon 144 5.69 0.77 673 114 54
Canned Sockeye Salmon 141 6.21 1.33 1228 306 37
Smoked Sockeye Salmon 175 6.17 1.25 1335 510 79
Salmon Nuggets or Burger 180 9.96 1.33 422 147 22

Catfish Nutrient Content

Seafood
(3 ounces)
Calories
(kcal)
Total Fat
(g)
Saturated Fat
(g)
Omega-3's, 
EPA+DHA
(mg)
Sodium
(mg)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Raw Catfish 101 5.05 1.11 62 83 47
Baked Catfish 122 6.11 1.34 76 101 56
Battered and Fried Catfish 195 11.33 2.79 290 238 60

Clam and Oyster Nutrient Content

Seafood
(3 ounces)
Calories
(kcal)
Total Fat
(g)
Saturated Fat
(g)
Omega-3's, 
EPA+DHA
(mg)
Sodium
(mg)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Raw Oysters 50 1.32 0.37 333 151 21
Baked/Grilled Oysters 67 1.80 0.58 384 139 32
Battered and Fried Oysters 169 10.69 2.71 357 354 60
Raw Clams 73 0.82 0.15 91 511 26
Canned Clams 121 1.35 0.26 150 95 42
Battered and Fried Clams 333 19.52 4.88 N/A 616 65
Clam chowder (1 cup) 154 5.09 2.75 26 688 18

Shrimp Nutrient Content

Seafood
(3 ounces)
Calories
(kcal)
Total Fat
(g)
Saturated Fat
(g)
Omega-3's, 
EPA+DHA
(mg)
Sodium
(mg)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Raw Shrimp 60 0.86 0.09 51 481 107
Steamed Shrimp 101 1.45 0.16 87 805 179
Battered and Fried Shrimp 206 10.44 1.7 198 292 117

Pollock Nutrient Content

Seafood
(3 ounces)
Calories
(kcal)
Total Fat
(g)
Saturated Fat
(g)
Omega-3's, 
EPA+DHA
(mg)
Sodium
(mg)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Raw Alaskan Pollock 78 0.83 0.11 357 73 60
Battered and Fried Fish Fillet 197 10.45 2.39 N/A 452 29
Battered and Fried Fish Sticks 212 11.26 2.33 343 358 24
Fish sandwich 243 13.29 3.781 N/A 436 68

Tuna Nutrient Content

Seafood
(3 ounces)
Calories
(kcal)
Total Fat
(g)
Saturated Fat
(g)
Omega-3's, 
EPA+DHA
(mg)
Sodium
(mg)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Raw Skipjack 88 0.86 0.27 217 31 40
Canned Light Tuna (oil) 168 6.98 1.3 109 301 15
Canned Light Tuna (water) 99 0.70 0.19 230 287 26
Canned White Tuna (oil) 158 6.87 1.08 207 337 26
Canned White Tuna (water) 109 2.52 0.67 733 320 36
Tuna salad 159 7.87 1.3 59 342 11

Crab Nutrient Content

Seafood
(3 ounces)
Calories
(kcal)
Total Fat
(g)
Saturated Fat
(g)
Omega-3's, 
EPA+DHA
(mg)
Sodium
(mg)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Raw Blue Crab 74 0.92 0.18 273 249 66
Canned Blue Crab 71 0.63 0.17 143 336 82
Blue Crab cakes 132 6.39 1.26 377 280 128
Raw Alaskan King Crab 71 0.51 0.07 N/A 711 36
Steamed Alaskan King Crab 82 1.31 0.11 351 911 45
Imitation Alaskan King Crab, surimi 81 0.39 0.15 N/A 715 17

Herring Nutrient Content

Seafood
(3 ounces)
Calories
(kcal)
Total Fat
(g)
Saturated Fat
(g)
Omega-3's, 
EPA+DHA
(mg)
Sodium
(mg)
Cholesterol
(mg)
Raw Herring 134 7.68 1.73 1336 76 51
Broiled or Baked Herring 173 9.85 2.22 1712 98 65
Pickled herring 223 15.31 2.02 1181 740 11


*All values obtained from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.