Why Canned Seafood is So Good for Your Brain Health | Well + Well

No.Regardless of how much you usually enjoy, grocery shopping in the midst of a massive increase in food cost inflation can seem like a bit of a hassle to say the least. (IYKYK: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a great resource for those of us looking to make the most of our weekly grocery budgets, as it shows which foods are the most and less affected by inflation.)

For example, the omnivores in the room probably know all too well that meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and seafood are some of the foods most affected by inflation right now, but there is one important caveat. Canned and canned seafood are one of the least affected categories by inflation, and these products offer some truly impressive health benefits. While chicken and steak saw prices rise more than 16% year-over-year, canned seafood was up less than 5%, according to the April 2022 CPI report.

“I always keep canned seafood on hand and recommend it to customers looking for brain-friendly food ideas because it is affordable, nutrient-rich and long-lasting,” says Kaely McDevitt, MS, RD, LD . “Since it’s already cooked and requires no refrigeration, canned seafood is a very easy source of protein that you can grab and walk out the door.”

While we love the convenience factor, McDevitt says canned seafood like salmon, oysters, sardines, clams, and tuna are “powerhouses.” Canned sardines, and salmon in particular, offer a serious increase in omega-3s, with sardines offering 1.19 grams per serving and salmon 0.91 grams. Adequate Intake (AI) for omega-3 fats is 1.1 grams per day for women and 1.6 for men, making canned seafood incredible sources of this ever-important nutrient to support functioning of the brain, fight inflammation and improve the health of our skin.

“In addition to omega-3s, which stimulate the brain and are packed with anti-inflammatory benefits, canned seafood is also an excellent source of important minerals like zinc, copper, iodine and selenium,” says McDevitt. “Canned seafood is also high in energy-boosting B vitamins.”

Like omega-3s, B vitamins are extremely important for improving brain health, as they act as chemical messengers for the body and help the brain communicate with other neurons in the body. And unlike other major sources of omega-3s like walnuts and flax seeds, canned seafood is a super source of protein. According to McDevitt, protein is an essential nutrient for achieving optimal brain health as it creates the building blocks of neurotransmitters, and low protein intake can be associated with reduced fatigue, brain fog, weakness, muscle loss and much more. “Additionally, minerals like zinc are critical for immune health, and iodine and selenium are beneficial for healthy, happy hormones,” says McDevitt.

How to buy canned seafood

Like most packaged products at your local supermarket, not all canned seafood is created equal. McDevitt says it’s important to consider a few things before finding the right brand for you. “First, he checks the ingredient list and make sure you only see the fish itself, plus minimal, easily recognizable salt or seasonings,” he says. “If the seafood is packaged in oil, look for olive oil instead of vegetable oil.

McDevitt also notes that it may also be helpful to research a brand’s sourcing and fishing practices, as well as whether they test for mercury content (this is especially important for tuna). He suggests checking out Seafood Watch to learn more about sustainable seafood options.

One of McDevitt’s favorite brands is Wild Planet, a sustainably sourced seafood brand that offers canned tuna, mackerel, sardines, salmon, anchovies and amberjack, as well as beef and chicken. Unlike many other canned seafood brands, Wild Planet’s products are low in mercury, free from additives, and follow strict sustainability measures to preserve our oceans and promote biodiversity.

So what’s the best way to enjoy canned seafood, you ask? While McDevitt loves a three-ingredient salmon salad, he says variety is key and it’s important to incorporate a variety of seafood into your diet. He will often mix in a can of sardines to a batch of tuna salad and also enjoyed canned smoked oysters on toasted sourdough. One of her favorite recipes of hers is salmon pies, which call for a can of salmon, an egg, breadcrumbs, and some seasoning to make a delicious lunch or dinner that comes together in minutes. There are so many tasty ways to whip canned seafood out there that you’re sure to find the right recipe even if you’re a little reluctant to test the waters.

Oh hello! You look like someone who loves free workouts, discounts for cutting-edge wellness brands, and exclusive Well + Good content. Join Well +, our online community of wellness insiders, and unlock your rewards instantly.