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, 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 Talapia, 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.
(Update: Since I wrote this post, Dr. Ballantyne has posted the following article on her website – check it out for a very detailed dive into the topic: “The Importance of Fish in our Diet” – click here.
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 and here for Canada.
Canned and Packaged Seafood is available from our affiliates at Shop AIP – click here for the seafood page.
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
Monterrey Bay Seafood Watch – a great resource for helping people make better seafood choices for a healthy ocean