How Important is Seafood on the AIP?
Discussion about fish and sustainable seafood often comes up in my AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group. What kind of tuna should I use? Is tilapia okay? How much should I eat? Is it possible to eat too much seafood? I heard mercury is a concern with seafood, should I avoid it on the AIP?
Dr. Ballantyne actually addresses these questions it in her 2019 Therapeutic Approach Masterclass (sorry, this program is not currently available), and I was extremely impressed by the simplicity of her answers and advice. I’ll try to do it justice and summarize it succinctly:
- Seafood is extremely nutrient dense and the beneficial nutrients FAR outweigh any “risks.”
- Farmed or wild-caught? Obviously, wild-caught is preferred (it contains more nutrients and Omega-3’s than farmed), but if farmed is the best you can do, it’s still an excellent, affordable option. She stated that even Tilapia, which is the worst fish for the ratio of Omega-3’s to 6’s, is still better than eating beef when it comes to the nutrients we need to detoxify. It’s also easier on digestion.
- Seafood is higher in Omega-3’s than meat like chicken, beef and pork, which are higher in Omega-6’s. Consuming a diet heavily concentrated on meat like chicken, beef and pork actually means you need to add more than the recommended weekly servings of seafood to off-set the Omega ratio … so just eat more seafood!
- Recommended Servings – Fish – 3 times per week minimum AND Shellfish – 1-2 times per week minimum AND Sea Vegetables – 1 time per week minimum (think seaweed salad or nori wrapped sushi – read more about the benefits of sea vegetables here ).
Sea Vegetables are not created equally. Dr. Ballantyne does not classify spirulina and chlorella in this class but indicated that we should concentrate on wakami, nori, kambu kelp and arami, typically dried and from sources, and it’s best to choose brands that do heavy metal testing (I’ve collected a few suggestion here).
- With nutrient sufficiency being our goal, it’s interesting to know that Dr. Ballantyne admitted consuming the recommended servings of seafood and a diet rich in a diverse variety of vegetables (a pescatarian diet) could be enough to reach nutrient sufficiency WITHOUT ever having to eat the food everyone dreads … LIVER!
- Selenium trumps mercury. As long as there is more selenium content in a fish than mercury (which is usually the case – the exception being TOP predators like shark, whale and swordfish) there’s nothing for us to worry about. Additionally, selenium binds mercury and other toxins and helps remove them from your body, so consuming selenium rich seafood plays a very important role in achieving nutrient sufficiency.
- Radiation (from Fukishima) in seafood is also a non-issue in Dr. Ballantyne’s opinion unless it’s caught within a 100 mile radius of the Fukishima disaster site. She claims you get more radiation from cross-country air travel than you would from the small amounts of radiation found in the seafood we consume.
Since I originally wrote this post, Dr. Ballantyne has added the following article on her website:
“The Importance of Fish in our Diet” (click here for a very detailed dive into the topic),
AND her new website “Nutrivore” provides more research AND nutrient rankings on a variety of seafood options:
click here to read “Seafood” on her Nutrivore website.
Reliable Seafood Sources:
ButcherBox also carries quality, sustainable salmon, scallops and lobster – click here.
Locally sourced, frozen seafood is available from truLOCAL in Canada – click here.
Frozen Seafood is available from US Wellness Meats – click here for the USA.
Canned and Packaged Seafood is available from our affiliates at Fully Healthy (formerly Shop AIP – click here to shop..
Dive Into the Details:
Since I see no reason to re-write well-written and thoroughly researched articles, I’ll simply refer you to a few of the sources I’ve personally found helpful.
5 Reasons Why Concerns About Mercury in Fish Are Misguided – Dr. Chris Kresser
Does Healthy Sustainable Seafood Exist – Eileen Baird of Phoenix Helix
Farm Raised vs. Wild Caught: Which is Best? – Dr. Amy Myers
The Truth About Tilapia – Paleo Hacks
Tuna Tracking & Verification Program and Monterrey Bay Seafood Watch – great resources for helping people make better seafood choices for a healthy ocean
If you’ve never been a fan of fish or seafood, or you’re intimidated to try cooking it, I want to reassure you that there’s nothing to fear! There are LOTS of amazing fish, seafood and shellfish recipes posted in my searchable AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group – click here to join.
If you’re not on Facebook, here are a few great recipes to get you started:
Ginger Baked Salmon – My FAVORITE! It’s easiest recipe ever and you’ll have dinner on the table in 20mins! I cook a sheet pan of leafy greens and carrot ribbons or bok choy at the same time (just drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and powdered ginger)
Lemon-Dill Poached Salmon – Fast and easy
Halibut Coconut Milk Stew with Roasted Squash – I used frozen halibut for this recipe and it was delicious! (Be sure to use additive-free coconut milk and ensure your fish sauce is compliant – Red Boat is most commonly recommended, or use Coconut Aminos like I did – NOTE: soy sauce is not an option on the AIP)
Tandoori Shrimp and Kale Bowl with Cauliflower Coconut Rice and Raita Sauce – a bit of work, but totally worth the effort!
Lemon Ginger Stir-Fry – Try it with shrimp!
Shrimp Scampi – So simple! Sometimes I get lazy and just cook with olive oil or coconut and salt (if you go the lazy route, salt is very necessary as it helps give that buttery flavor you’re used to with traditional scampi)
No Mayo Tuna Salad – I make this chicken salad recipe with tuna instead
Superfood Sardine Salad – for people who hate sardines! – I love this served on SweetPotato Awesome slices – shop here and get a 10% discount with code: AIPRECIPES