News image

WCRF Q&A | How Eating Seafood Can Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 : 11:13 AM

We’ve teamed up with the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) to encourage you to eat more fish to help improve both you and your family’s health.

According to the WCRF, about a third of the most common cancers could be prevented in the UK each year (around 80,000 cases) through eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active. Fish is a very healthy alternative to eating red and processed meats as eating too much of these types of meats increases your risk of developing bowel cancer.

We spoke with Sarah James, Nutritionist and Health Information Publications Manager at WCRF (pictured below!) to give you some more information on how exactly seafood can aid in reducing your cancer risk.

1. What are the health benefits of eating seafood?

As seafood is low in saturated fat, it is a good alternative to red meat. It is also high in protein and nutrients such as vitamin D and selenium. Oily fish, such as salmon and herring, contain healthy Omega-3 fats, which are essential for a healthy heart.

Shellfish and squid are high in cholesterol, but they provide many other nutrients such as selenium, zinc, iodine and copper. Certain shellfish, such as oysters and cockles, are very high in iron. 

The cholesterol found in shellfish does not usually make a great contribution to the level of cholesterol in your blood, making it a safe and healthy choice for you and your family, as part of a balanced diet.

2. Are there any particular oily fish that are higher in Omega-3 than others?

Yes. Omega-3 originates in algae, and as the Omega-3 is passed up the food chain it accumulates so that as a general rule, the bigger the fish, the more Omega-3 it contains. Mackerel is a good source of Omega-3 (containing about 4g/100g raw flesh) as is salmon (containing about 3g/100g raw flesh), compared to trout (which contains about 1g/100g).

The NHS website has useful information about what various nutrients found in fish do to the body.

3. What’s the healthiest way to cook seafood?

Baking, steaming or grilling with no or minimal added fat (eg. oil or butter) are the best ways to cook seafood. Deep-frying is probably the worst as this adds lots of fat and calories.

Furthermore, Omega-3 is an unsaturated fat, so there is some thought that it might be unstable when cooked at very high temperatures for too long.

4. When it comes to preparing it, what’s the best way to dress/season your fish?

Lemon and lime juice contain vitamin C so adding them before eating can help you absorb the iron. Otherwise, avoid using oil and butter as this adds fat, and season with herbs and spices rather than salt.

5. How often should we be eating fish?

As seafood is a healthy protein option, we should aim to eat at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish.

It’s always good to try and get sustainably caught fish if possible – such as fish from Fishbox. People can find out more by visiting the World Cancer Research Fund website.


Hungry for more? Don’t forget to try WCRF’s exclusive recipes to go along with our fish (like this one above):

               -Citrus Salmon Parcels


               -Herby Fish ‘n’ Chips

               -Fish Curry with Noodles

               -Oriental Fish Cakes

What Do You Think?