Pete Evans

Seafood

Seafood

It’s Mother Nature’s ultimate treasure – the ocean and its bounty is one of the best natural resources we have for providing power-packed food sources that fill our bodies full of health-aiding vitamins and minerals. Seafood has always been at the very top of my list for my favourite ingredients to work with as a chef.

It’s Mother Nature’s ultimate treasure – the ocean and its bounty is one of the best natural resources we have for providing power-packed food sources that fill our bodies full […]

And as an Australian surfer, who grew up with a deep respect for the pounding waves and kilometres of unspoilt coastline that typifies this country, I love fish, oysters, mussels, prawns, even fish heads, because of their versatility, freshness and textural diversity in so many different dishes.

But nowadays I’m not just consuming at least two to three meals of seafood a week for taste and recipe experimentation alone. Instead eating wild-caught, sustainable seafood regularly is one of the ways I ensure I get lots of omega-3, selenium, calcium, potassium, iron and important vitamins, such as vitamin B12 and D. All are key vitamins and minerals in ensuring my body and mind experience optimal health, wellbeing and balance.

That’s because no matter what seafood gets you salivating – be it mussels, oysters or the firm white flesh of a freshly caught wild snapper – the reality is that sustainable seafood is one of the best food choices you can make on a weekly basis for your health and the health of our planet.

Simply put, the huge variety of seafood that’s available to us in Australia means we are blessed with an abundance of one of nature’s nutritional superstars. I’ve always eaten lots of fish and crustaceans and know the enormous benefits my body (and brain, for that matter) get from eating seafood regularly.

You see, whether you choose an oyster omelette (one of my all-time breakfast favourites), a pot of steamed mussels packed with herbs and spices, a simple piece of pan-fried wild-caught fish with a nutrient-packed kale and pumpkin salad on the side or an entirely different dish – such as the fish head curry recipe I learnt while travelling in Malaysia last year – the reality is that by including a wide variety of seafood in your diet you are contributing positively to your overall good health and longevity.

That’s because scientists have proven that eating lots of seafood really does make you smarter.

For years research has shown how regular consumption (considered to be two to three times a week) of fatty-acids omega-3 – which are inherent in abundance in fish – help support the brain’s development through every age and stage of life.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also proven to help protect against cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes. And more and more research is being done into its role in the prevention of other chronic modern-day diseases because of the fatty acids ability to effectively bring inflammation under control.

Essentially polyunsaturated fats, our bodies can easily absorb short-chain omega-3 fatty acids known as ALA (alpha-linoleic acid) from eating flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds and spinach. But unless we have a certain supply and balance of nutrients, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and the minerals zinc and magnesium in our systems, most of us struggle to convert enough ALA into two much more important long-chain omega-3 fatty acids known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

And because DHA is one of the primary structural components of the brain and retina, it becomes easy to see why eating two to three servings of sustainable, wild-caught fish a week can be a game-changer and one of the best adjustments you can make to your diet.

More and more scientific research is uncovering the incredibly important role an adequate intake of EPA and DHA can play in determining the future of our health and longevity. Research has discovered that fuelling your body as it ages with lots of omega-3 will ensure you have better memory as well as providing some protection from Alzheimers and other memory-related diseases.

The other major reason a paleo lifestyle focuses on eating a lot of wild-caught seafood is because one of the best things to try and do when putting your health first is to address your fatty acids intake and try to consume more omega-3 naturally, as well as looking to krill oil, fish oil or cod liver oil for supplementation.

You see, in the Western world today many diets are saturated with high levels of omega-6 fatty acids due to the consumption of high levels of polyunsaturated vegetable oils and processed foods. Meanwhile, the same diets are very low in natural sources of omega-3. By contrast, when our Palaeolithic ancestors roamed the earth, they enjoyed a diet of omega-3 and omega-6 in a perfectly balanced 1:1 ratio.

However as modern-day agriculture and food manufacturing practices have become increasingly grain-based, the amount of omega-6 in our diets has sky rocketed and today the ratio for most people in the Western world is 1:2 to 1:5. And the flow-on effect of this shows in the soaring rates of obesity and chronic disease diagnoses.

So seafood is vital for achieving optimum nutrition. But why is it important to make such a point of choosing wild-caught fish over the farmed stuff? It’s all because a paleo lifestyle is about eating the most natural diet possible and so that’s why I always eat fish that have been swimming in the sea. Eating coldwater fish such as salmon is an ideal and natural way to get lots of good fats, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants into your diet.

Eating fresh raw fish, like yellowfin tuna, in a Japanese sashimi style is also a great way to get the most vitamins and minerals you can. Another dish I love is ceviche – a raw fish salad marinated in coconut milk. It’s high in good saturated fats and gives you that raw food kick. Raw foodists believe that enzymes are the life force of food and these enzymes aid in digestion and the absorption of minerals. It’s why I love to eat raw fish because it gives me a great energy kick.

And even if you don’t love fish, I urge you all to find a good seafood dish you love and to include it as one of your regular meals because the health of your body and brain will thank you immensely. Try mussels – they are an excellent source of iodine, iron, selenium, manganese (which promotes healthy sleep) and vitamin B12. Oysters, meanwhile, are amazing in terms of how much nutritional punch they pack into your body, all in just one bite. Encased in their shells, the oyster membrane is one of the most nutrient-rich foods we can consume as well as being one of the most sustainable proteins on the planet. In fact, they actually help to clean up our polluted waterways, which is why I never feel guilty about scoffing them in abundance! Now I feel like an oyster omelette, anyone for breakfast?

Cook with love and laughter,

Pete

By Pete Evans

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