Is Seafood a Kid Food?

Is Seafood a Kid Food?

Some families are intimidated by selecting, prepping, and cooking seafood. Others wonder if it’s safe to serve to kids. Thankfully, after learning about seafood and how to select it, cooking it and serving it to your family is as easy as preparing chicken.

Let’s start our seafood discussion with some facts about what seafood has to offer. Seafood can be a delicious part of a healthy diet. It’s high in protein and low in calories, fat, and saturated fat.

A large proportion of the fat in seafood is polyunsaturated fat, including omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed for healthy brain and eye development.

Fish is a natural source of B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, and vitamin A (especially oily fish) and is a good source of minerals such as selenium, zinc, iodine and iron. What are some of the things that these nutrients do in the body?

  • B-complex vitamins have been associated with healthy development of the nervous system.
  • Vitamin D is essential in bone development.
  • Vitamin A is needed for healthy vision and healthy skin. 
  • Selenium is an antioxidant that protects against cell damage.
  • Zinc is needed for cell growth and immune system health.
  • Iodine helps maintain thyroid gland function.
  • Iron is important in red blood cell production.

What should you consider when purchasing seafood for your family?

  • If you are going to prepare fish caught by yourself or fish that someone has caught and given to you, know where it’s from and check to see if there are any advisories against eating seafood from the body of water where the fish was caught. You can use the Environmental Protection Agency’s Advisories Where You Live site to search. The FDA advises that when you are unable to check for advisories on a waterway, young children should limit consumption to between one to three ounces per week and not eat other fish that week.
  • Choose fish that are lowest in contaminants. Avoid fish caught in any waters that are subject to a mercury advisory. Children (and women who are pregnant, could become pregnant, or are breastfeeding) should avoid shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish due to mercury content. Children may eat up to 6 ounces of albacore tuna each week. The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Guide is a great seafood guide to have for choosing “best choices,” “good alternatives,” and seafood to “avoid.” 
  • Consider preparation and cooking methods. To reduce exposure to contaminants, remove the skin from the fish and trim the fat. Broil, grill, bake, or steam using a pan that will allow the fat to drip away from the seafood. Avoid sauces made from the fish drippings or cooking liquids used to cook the fish.
  • Choose wild caught instead of farmed fish in most cases due to the environmental repercussions of aquaculture. When possible, try to purchase seafood that helps support healthy waterways.
  • Consider portion sizes and varying the types of seafood eaten. Children 12 years old and younger should eat about 8 ounces of a variety of seafood each week. 
  • Handle and store seafood safely. The FDA has a great resource about seafood safety.
  • Young children should not eat raw or partially cooked seafood, including smoked fish.

Seafood can be a wonderful addition to a healthy diet, and though it can be somewhat mysterious if you haven’t prepared it before, learning about it and taking small steps to preparing it more often will open your kitchen to wonderful flavors and delicious kid-friendly meals.

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