Collaboration on health effects of seafood consumption

Collaboration on health effects of seafood consumption

The first cardiovascular health study in China investigating the effect of seafood consumption on health parameters, shows a 20% decrease in disease markers in patients consuming salmon for lunch 5 times per week, for 8 weeks. The results were recently announced in a Chinese-Norwegian seafood seminar during a fisheries fair in Qingdao, China.

Globally, many countries are battling lifestyle diseases and the trend is rising, also in China and Norway. Both countries sees an increase of cardiovascular diseases, mental disorders and diabetes type II. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted the importance of nutrition as one means to combat such problems, and several scientific studies have drawn our attention to the potential health benefits from eating seafood regularly.

“The current Chinese diet has a major problem—there is too much intake of dietary fat and a relatively low ratio of omega-3 fatty acids,” said Zhang Jian, the lead Chinese researcher for the study. Professor Zhang is the Dean of Elderly and Clinical Nutrition Department, Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Compared to other kinds of foods, seafood contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids, most notably EPA and DHA,” explained Professor Zhang. “Based on our findings and upon the results of other studies, there is substantial evidence for the protective effect of EPA and DHA on cardiovascular system. The study results show that subjects who ate farmed salmon 5 times per week—a total of 500g per week—showed a significant improvement in fatty acid nutritional status and lowered a key cardiovascular disease risk factor by 20%. In other words, salmon is an excellent source of proteins, contain essential vitamins, minerals and trace elements and is a good and natural source of  marine omega-3 content which gives a positive  health effect.”

The 8-week cardiovascular health study, mainly funded by the Research Council of Norway began in August 2007 in Beijing and was conducted on men aged 35 to 70 years that have mild cardiovascular disease symptoms. The men were divided into three groups. The first group ate 500g of farmed salmon per week, the second group consumed 500g of two or three types of local seafood per week, and the third group followed a normal diet. The results showed a 20% decrease in blood lipids in the group eating salmon, which imply a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and type II diabetes.

Research project leader Prof. Livar Frøyland, National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (Norway), stressed the positive health news the China-Norway cardiovascular study has provided to consumers: “This research project is extremely relevant to consumers, not only in China, as it demonstrates the close connection between regular seafood consumption and health. Recent international risk-benefit reports on seafood consumption all conclude that seafood is an important part of a varied and balanced diet. Seafood, particularly fatty fish rich in very long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids seems to protect against cardiovascular disease and is beneficial for brain development and functioning. Salmon also has a high level of protein, vitamins, minerals and is rich in antioxidants which are good for overall health and positive for skin health as well as fat metabolism. In addition, lean fish has been shown to prevent the development diabetes type II in humans. Thus, in order to have a varied and balanced diet providing the best health potential it is important to include both fatty fish and lean fish—marine and freshwater food—in your regular diet.”

“This Chinese-Norwegian joint cardiovascular research project will be beneficial for people everywhere,” said Mrs. Turid Hiller, Research Council of Norway. “The connection between food, health and quality of life is an area of increasing focus in the scientific community. There is a need to increase research initiatives to document the biological and health benefits of food. Consumers must be assured of safe and healthy food of genuine quality through environmentally friendly and ethical acceptable food production.” The Research Council of Norway is Norway’s official body for the development and implementation of national research strategy and also works actively to encourage international research cooperation.