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How to get the nutrients in seafood without eating fish

Woman with a fish in a frying pan, holding her nose

Dietitian Professor Catherine Itsiopoulos examines what nutrients people who don’t eat seafood might be missing and offers other ways to make up for the shortfall.

Q I don’t like seafood — am I missing out on essential nutrients? Can I get the same nutritional benefits elsewhere?

Sue, via email

A Fish and seafood are highly nutritious. They‘re a good source of protein and vitamins A, B and D, and of important minerals such as selenium, zinc, iodine and iron. They‘re also the main dietary source of long-chain omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, which are essential for cardiovascular health, and brain and vision development in infants.

If you’re not eating fish but are eating animal foods, it’s easy to get enough protein and vitamins A, B and D from foods like beef, lamb, pork, chicken, eggs and dairy foods. Iodine is a little trickier, but can be obtained from iodised salt, and it occurs in high amounts in seaweed and algae.

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you need to ensure you’re getting enough high-quality protein from legumes and wholegrain cereals, and from milk alternatives (especially soy milk) and tofu. There’s an abundance of ‘meatless meat‘ which is rich in legume protein and in minerals.

Long-chain omega-3 fats (EPA and DHA) are harder to consume from non-seafood sources, but seaweed and algae are rich in EPA and DHA. A common seaweed you can try is nori — the seaweed wrapped around sushi!

First published: Aug 2021

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