Health and Education
Is fish really brain food?
The human brain is more than 60% fat. Your muscles are made of protein, your bones
are made of calcium, and your brain is over 60% fat. So, yes. Omega-3 rich fish
really is brain food.
What in fish makes it brain food?
You wouldn’t put random fat into your brain. Omega-3 oils are liquid at room temperature,
and are healthy oils. They are far better than trans fats (hydrogenated oils) or
saturated fats (solid at room temperature). They are even better than other types
of polyunsaturated fats, like safflower, corn or sunflower. These oils are unsaturated
too, but we already get plenty of them in our diet.
What types of fat are there in
There are 3 types of fat. There is saturated fat (solid at room temperature), trans
fat (also solid) and unsaturated fat (liquid).
What type of fat does seafood
Seafood has unsaturated fat. It has no trans fat—ever. And no saturated fat, or
else it couldn’t swim because it would be stiff as a board.
Your body needs unsaturated fat to make nerve cells, cushion your eyes and hips,
and to work well. It doesn’t need trans fat—ever. It needs a tiny bit of saturated
fat—no one knows how much.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance in the body that is a combination of fat and alcohol.
You need some cholesterol for your body to work well—to make cells and to make hormones.
Too high a level of cholesterol, however, puts you at risk for heart disease.
How does my body get high cholesterol?
Your body makes all the cholesterol you need in the liver. You get high cholesterol
by eating too many foods high in saturated fat and trans fat.
I understand that seafood is
high in cholesterol. Is that true?
No. Three ounces of crab has 90 milligrams of cholesterol—just 30% of the recommended
daily value. And it has only 1 gram of fat, which is unsaturated. Other good-for-you
cooked fish and seafood have about the same in 3 ounces: cod 85 milligrams, halibut
85mg, lobster 85 mg, salmon 85mg, yellowfin tuna 85mg.
Does the cholesterol in food
raise my cholesterol level?
Very little. If you have over 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily, every day, for
weeks or months, your cholesterol level will go up slightly: perhaps 2%. But if
you eat modest portions of seafood (3 ounces) or even larger portions (6-8 ounces),
your cholesterol should not rise.
Does eating seafood, especially
crab, raise my cholesterol level?
No, because what raises your cholesterol level is saturated and trans fat, not cholesterol
from food. If you eat too much and gain weight, however, your weight gain will raise
your cholesterol. But 3 ounces of crab is just 100 calories, and has 20 grams of
lean protein to boot.
What do the healthy omega-3 fats
in crab do?
Fish and shellfish, including crab, contain an unsaturated fat known as Omega-3.
These fats lower your risk for heart disease.
Doesn’t the body make all the
fat it needs?
No. Omega-3 fats are called “essential” because they are essential to survival.
But we cannot make them—we have to eat them. Fish are the best source of Omega-3
How much Omega-3 fat does crab
400 milligrams in a 3-ounce serving—a healthy amount of healthy fat.
Do the healthy Omega-3 fats help
the heart by lowering my cholesterol level?
No, probably not. Omega-3 fats do not change LDL (lousy) cholesterol levels. But
eating fish or shellfish, twice per week or more reduces risk for heart disease
and for heart attack.
How much fish should I eat?
It is recommended that you eat fish at least twice per week, and up to 5 times per
week. Average annual fish consumption in Japan is 70 kg (about 154 pounds) in contrast
to the American average of 22 kg (48.4 pounds).
Where should I go for dietary
-source Dr. John La Puma, MD, FACP