Kids and Seafood! Are yours eating enough?

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At BlogHer, talking about fish in kids' diets.

What a great time at the BlogHer ’10 convention in New York this weekend, talking to mom, food, nutrition and other bloggers about the importance of kids eating a wide variety of foods, in order to ensure that they are eating a healthful diet!

I attended the show on behalf of the Perinatal Nutrition Working Group (PNWG). I spoke at their media lunch at BLT Laurent Seafood about incorporating seafood into kids’ diets, so that they will get the proper amounts of Omega-3s that they need. Seafood is such a perfect food for kids, and yet it is something that so many children don’t eat, often only because their parents think that they won’t!

Little kids (ages 2 – 5) need about 70 mg of Omega-3s every day, according to Mary Harris, Ph.D., RD, of Colorado State University and the PNWG. At ages 4 – 8, they need 90 mg per day, and 120 mg when aged 9 – 13. (Omega-3s are a special kind of healthy fat that play an important role in brain growth and development. Fish contain two important kinds of Omega-3’s – DPA and EPA, and it’s important to consume these because the body can’t make them on its own.) The best food sources? Fish, especially salmon, which has 1,238 mg in a 3 ounce serving, as well as other seafoods like pollock (383 mg in the same size serving); crab (196 mg); canned tuna (190 mg); scallops (169 mg) and cod, clams, shrimp, tilapia and catfish.

Have you ever heard fish referred to as brain food? Apparently, it’s because of those Omega-3s, according to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study that showed that women with the highest intake of fish during pregnancy (2 ounces per day on average) had children 25 percent more likely to have higher developmental scores at six months of age, and almost 30 percent more likely to have higher scores at 18 months.

And it doesn’t stop when the baby is born. “The last trimester of pregnancy and that first year of life are critical to full brain development,” said Dr. Harris. That’s why it’s important for nursing moms to continue to eat fish, and for little ones to consume it in their own diets when they start eating.

I joined Dr. Harris at the conference in praising the benefits of fish consumption for children, noting that eating seafood is one of the best ways for young children to begin to expand their palates and try a wide variety of foods. Seafood offers so much variety; after all, clams do not taste like salmon does not taste like oysters do not taste like halibut does not taste like crab do not taste like shrimp! And the flavor of various seafoods well-supports a variety of herbs, spices and cooking methods used in a wide array of cuisines. As I discuss in my book, “My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus,” you can use seafood to introduce your kids to Asian, South American, Mediterranean, Mexican, Caribbean and so many other flavors.

Fish is also a food that grows with your kids. When they’re really young, start them on canned tuna or a soft fish like cod. From there, it’s an easy and delicious step to full-scale “adult” meals like grilled tuna steaks and more robust seafoods like mussels, salmon and crab cakes.

Are you and your kids eating enough?

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