A unique food
Fish and seafood are important sources of vital nutrients such as protein, vitamin B12, selenium and iodine. Seafood has a favorable fatty acid composition. Oily fish and cod liver oil are the most important sources of the long polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and vitamin A, and are beneficial in relation to cardiovascular disease and fetal development. In addition, seafood contains little of the saturated fat.
The main health-promoting effects of eating seafood are related to the high proportion of omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish is a good source of two important omega-3 fatty acids; eicosapthenic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
These polyunsaturated and long-chain fatty acids are the main constituents of the cell membranes of fish, shellfish and marine mammals. Marine algae have an efficient formation of EPA and DHA, while plants and animals on land generally have a poor or no own production of these fatty acids. Since algae are the basis of the marine food chain, EPA and DHA are enriched in seafood. Fish and other seafood are therefore good sources of the important omega-3 fatty acids.
Humans and most terrestrial animals have a limited ability to convert other fatty acids to EPA and DHA. Therefore, it is important to consume these fatty acids in sufficient amounts through the diet.
The Government's Action Plan for a Better Diet (2007-2011) recommends that approx. 30% of energy intake comes from fat. Of this fat, the proportion of saturated fat should be reduced from today to 14% to a maximum of 10% of energy intake. This means that some of the fat from today's diet should be replaced with healthy unsaturated fish fat.