Health Facts

Health and Nutrition

Evidence suggests that you get real health benefits when you eat just two servings of seafood every week — that’s about 200–400g of seafood. Here’s how the goodness of New Zealand seafood can help to keep you healthy.

Health benefits from eating seafood

  • lower the risk of coronary heart disease
  • lower blood pressure
  • prevent arrhythmia in the heart muscle
  • prevent a second heart attack in people who already have heart disease
  • ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
  • develop nerve and brain cells in infants
  • promote good mental health
  • reduce the risk of prostate cancer
  • reduce Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio so that lung cancer is less invasive
  • decrease the risk of bowel cancer
  • ease inflamed airways

Health benefits of seafood - human body reference diagram

Source: National Fisheries Institute (NFI) 39kB

What's in seafood that makes it so good?

Oily fish, like salmon or mackerel, are very high in Omega-3 which are an essential part of a healthy diet.

Eating seafood boasts many health benefits including lowering the risk of coronary heart disease, lowering blood pressure, and improving arthritis and asthma symptoms. So what’s in seafood that makes it so good?

New Zealand seafood is:

High in Omega-3 and fatty acids

Just one dollar a week can buy enough mackerel to meet the daily Omega-3 requirement of a family of four.

Recent research from the University of Auckland confirms that New Zealand seafood is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids that are vital for maintaining our health.

Omega-3s have been shown to be vital for growing eye and brain tissues, and for maintaining good health especially for protecting against heart disease and stroke as well as other common human disorders. Omega-3 is vital for nerve and brain cell development in infants.

The level of Omega-3 varies widely between different seafoods. Some New Zealand species like salmon, jack mackerel, kahawai, and grey mullet have very high levels, making them an excellent choice for a healthy diet.

High in protein

A 100g serving of fish provides approximately one-third of the recommended daily intake of protein for an adult male. A normal main-meal serving is about 150gm of fish.

Low in carbohydrates and saturated fats

Most fish with fins contain no carbohydrate at all. Some shellfish, like squid and scallops, contain the carbohydrate, glycogen. Glycogen plays an important role in the glucose cycle, which produces energy.

Low in saturated fats

New Zealand seafood is an excellent and safe source of Omega-3s, even when it’s been canned.

It’s better to eat food rich in unsaturated oils than to eat foods high in saturated fat. New Zealand seafood contains mainly unsaturated and polyunsaturated oils — so you’re choosing the right oils when you choose to eat fish. On average, New Zealand fish contain just 4% oil and white fleshed fish generally contain the least oil.

The Heart Foundation recommends that those at risk of cardio-vascular disease should, 'aim to eat at least two fish meals a week (200-400g / week) preferably fish and shellfish with high oil content.'

A good source of essential minerals and vitamins

Seafood contains phosphorus, fluoride, magnesium, iodine, calcium, sodium, and potassium. If you eat canned small fish — like sardines or salmon — complete with fish bones, you get even more calcium from your meal!

Seafood is also a useful source of trace elements like iron, zinc, copper, and selenium. Almost 30% of the selenium intake of New Zealanders comes from eating seafood.

Seafood is a good source of B group vitamins, especially thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. Fish liver is a good source of vitamins A and D.

Seafood vitamin and mineral content (per 100g serving, baked tarakihi)

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Needed for cells to replicate and grow. Excellent for women considering pregnancy as it counteracts neural tube problems

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Helps to regulate cholesterol

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Helps to convert carbohydrates into the fuel your body runs on

Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Healthy blood and nervous system

Vitamin A

Healthy immune system and eyesight

Vitamin B12

Healthy nervous system — for your brain to function at its best

Vitamin D

Strong, healthy bones


Strong bones and teeth


Maintains normal metabolism


More energy and healthy blood. Essential for baby brain development


Essential for brain development. May reduce the risk of cancer cell growth. Assists in managing inflammatory and auto-immune diseases. Many other health benefits


Needed to regulate water balance, levels of acidity, blood pressure, and neuromuscular functions


May reduce the risk of some cancers


Fights infection and heals wound