John Croft is a world-leading expert on the therapeutic uses of marine extracts, including the New Zealand native shellfish, green-lipped mussel. He has more than 40 years’ experience in the industry and has written numerous books about marine health products including, most recently, Arthritis and Aging, a solution from the sea.
There are many reasons why we should all be looking to stick some more fish on our fork. Boasting some of the longest-living people in the world, Okinawa in Japan has become the subject of dietary research that could promote healthy longevity in lives all over the globe. With the Japanese diet consisting predominantly of seafood, we take a deep dive into the sea of health benefits the ocean has to offer with marine scientist, John Croft who lists his top five foods from the sea for health and vitality.
Prawns are a great low-fat source of protein and contain a healthy level of calcium, potassium, omega-3 and vitamin A and B. Not only does your body need omega-3 fatty acids to function, they also deliver some big health benefits such as reducing inflammation. Studies have found that they may also help reduce your risk of heart disease and arthritis, help maintain healthy brain function and even regulate insulin. Omega 3 fatty acids are not made naturally by our body, meaning we need to find them in our diet, the best source of omega-3s being seafood.
- GREEN LIPPED MUSSEL
Japanese people are incredibly active and agile into old age, and their seafood diet, rich in joint-friendly omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins, is often attributed to this. The green lipped mussel in particular has beneficial effects in relieving joint inflammation associated with mild arthritis. This little sea creature was first discovered in New Zealand by native Maori, and formed a major part of their diet. Since 1972 these mussels have been sustainably farmed. If you suffer from joint pain and inflammation, green lipped mussel can make a worthy addition to your diet. Although they are only found in New Zealand, you’ll be able to find highly bioavailable green lipped mussel extract supplements in both pharmacies and health food stores.
Salmon is low-fat, high-protein and filled with a healthy level of omega-3 fatty acids that help maintain a healthy heart and aid in the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Did you know, salmon is an anadromous fish? Born in fresh water before spending most of its life in the open sea only to swim back to fresh water to spawn. Their ability to return to fresh water is attributed to their memory – one of the reasons why this intelligent fish is considered ‘brain food’.
Many Okinawans (residents of the island in Japan where inhabitants frequently live past the age of 100) cite seaweed as the key to their life-long health and vitality. This excellent sea food can inhibit the enzymes in our gut that digest fat, making less fat absorbed by our body – little wonder why so many people are beginning to rave about it! Seaweed is also high in protein, and contains beneficial minerals such as iodine and magnesium. Many females suffer from thyroid dysfunction and are iodine deficient, making seaweed an import addition to one’s diet.
One of the most well recognised is nori, the seaweed found in sushi. Other sea vegetables not as widely known include kombu and wakame, these contain the mineral vanadium which plays a role in the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar levels. Try including more vegetables in your diet, whether it is in a healthy stir fry or sampling some sea vegetables by eating sushi. Next time you make a soup, stew or stir-fry, consider sprinkling some seaweed on top.
Sardines on toast may seem like an unpleasant, smelly breakfast, but it’s a highly nutritious (and not to mention cheap!) way to incorporate necessary minerals, fats and proteins into your diet. Sardines are packed with iron, calcium, B vitamins, folate, vitamin K and more. 300 grams of sardines is also found to supply 9 per cent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin D – the vitamin you need to maintain strong bones.