Seafood and health

Fish and other seafood contain high levels of many nutrients, and are good sources of proteins, fats (especially the long polyunsaturated marine n-3-fatty acids), vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium and iodine.

Fish and other seafood contain high levels of many nutrients, and are good sources of proteins, fats (especially the long polyunsaturated marine n-3-fatty acids), vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium and iodine.

One of the greatest health-related challenges facing the Western world today relates to dietary habits (including too much saturated fat, sugars and salt) in addition to physical inactivity. The prevention of non-communicable diseases through better diets, increased physical activity and smoking cessation have high priority in the World Health Organization's (WHO) work.

The general recommendation for the Norwegian population is to increase the consumption of fish and other seafood, especially those who currently do not eat much fish. In 2011, the health authorities introduced new dietary advices based on systematic review of knowledge and research in the field. One advice is as follows:

Eat fish for dinner two or three times a week. Also use fish as spread.

The Scientific Committee for Food Safety wrote the following in its report "A comprehensive assessment of fish and other seafood in the Norwegian diet": 

  • "Based on an assessment of the intake of nutrients, – in particular the marine n-3 fatty acids and vitamin D -  it is advisable to eat more fatty fish, especially for those who  eat little fatty fish and for that half of the population who eats the least amount of fish. 
  • There are solid grounds for concluding that the consumption of fish and other seafood, in particular fatty fish, has a health-promoting (benificial) effect by slowing down and preventing the development of cardiovascular disease. The consumption of fish and other seafood, especially fatty fish, can also be beneficial for pregnancy and foetal development, including the development of cerebral functions.
  • Based on a comprehensive assessment of scientific documentation of the positive health benefits and the presence of potentially health damaging substances, as well as on knowledge about the consumption of fish and other seafood in the Norwegian diet, the scientific Committee for food Safety concludes that consumption of fish, whether lean or fatty, will have a positive effect on health. "

Farmed salmon is fatty, whereas wild salmon contains less fat, in part because wild salmon do not eat while on their journey from the open sea to Norwegian rivers for spawning. The special characteristic of farmed salmon is that its nutrients and nutritional value are affected by the choice of feed ingredients. Contributions from farmed salmon to the population's consumption of omega-3 and vitamin D can be increased significantly by selecting feed ingredients containing high levels of these nutrients.