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Even if you're feeding them a healthy balanced diet, a new technical report shows that, if they're like your child may still be lacking one important, nutrient-dense food source. It's a food that not only contains a great deal of protein and the much-needed Vitamin D, but one that, if eaten in the first nine months of life can, according to researchers, prevent or greatly reduce the development of certain allergic diseases like asthma, eczema and allergic rhinitis.
What is this super healthy food source? Seafood.
According to a recently released report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids in the U.S. don't eat nearly enough fish and shellfish, especially compared to other protein sources. In fact, the report says, 90 percent of the animal protein children typically eat comes from sources other than fish.
Related: Our Best Seafood Recipes
As you probably already know, fish and shellfish are packed with omega-3, which has been shown to improve heart health, mood, and more. And while most studies about the benefits of eating seafood have focused on adults, research cited in the report has shown that eating fish early not only reduces the likelihood of allergies, but eating fish when pregnant can be vital to prenatal development: Children's neurodevelopment can be negatively affected when a pregnant mother eats less than 340 grams a week.
One of the biggest reasons some people avoid the health benefits of fish is because it also poses potential risks. Some fish, such as swordfish, albacore tuna, and king mackerel, contain methylmercury which, ingested in high doses, can affect brain development and leave you fatigued or cause blurred vision.
So, how can you balance these serious risks with what seem like big rewards? First, be sure to serve low-mercury fish options most often to your kids—and yourself. Salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, tilapia, and cod are all excellent options. And be wary of any high-mercury fish; even one serving a month could give you too much mercury, according to other reports.
Of course, there may be another hurdle to serving your kids fish and shellfish: They may not like the taste of it. That's why we've compiled these fish and seafood recipes for picky eaters. Here, you'll find options you and your kids will love, such as fish sticks and fish tacos.