feed for fish and fish as food
Seafood and health
One of the biggest health challenges in the Western world today is poor diet and too little physical activity. The World Health Organization (WHO) has concerns about this development and is putting focus on the increasing levels of lifestyle diseases, Which are usually diet-related and are associated with poor nutritional status.
Cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis and mental illness are all lifestyle diseases. The WHO prioritises prevention through a healthier diet, increased physical activity and smoking cessation: engaging for health. "The eleventh general programme of work 2006–2011" A global health agenda (WHO).
A varied diet provides good nutritional status and forms the basis for good health. The authorities advise people to eat more seafood since this is a significant part of a varied diet, much like for example fruit and wholegrain products. Seafood contains unique combinations of nutrients, proteins, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, which are all important components of a healthy and proper diet.
Research suggests that seafood has beneficial effects on health, but so far, according to the Scientific Committee for Food Safety’s "Holistic view on fish and other seafood in the Norwegian diet", it is mainly the positive effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular disease that is adequately documented. This is primarily due to many scientific studies examining only the effect of a single type of nutrient, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers thus considered the effects of different fish oils or capsules of omega-3 fatty acids, not the effects of eating fish as such.
Fish and other seafood contain so much more than omega-3 fatty acids. They are unique packages of various nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium and iodine. Examining the nutritional effect of fish is demanding and complex because nutrients are present in different amounts and unique forms, and they all affect the body. Researchers still know little about how these combinations influence our health. Detailed knowledge about the health effects of fish and seafood will make it easier to give more specific and tailor-made diet recommendations in the future. Researchers at NIFES are working to document the effects of fish and seafood on health. In some contexts we study the effects of fish as a whole, while in other situations, where we examine the mechanisms behind these health effects, we focus on individual components.
Seafood may also contain unwanted substances such as methyl mercury, dioxins, PCBs and other harmful elements. The Scientific Committee for Food Safety has concluded that: "Based on a comprehensive assessment of scientific evidence of positive health benefits compared with the presence of potentially harmful substances, combined with knowledge about consumption of fish and other seafood in the Norwegian diet, the consumption of fish, whether white or oily, will in sum provide positive health effects."
Undesirable substances can be harmful to our health if we consume large quantities. Scientists know much about how harmful the individual substances are, but still lack knowledge about how these substances and nutrients mutually influence each other and what consequences this may have for our health.