As a 16-year veteran of the National Basketball Association, playing well over 1,000 games and being named an All-Star three times, you can imagine the deep respect I have for health and fitness. When my wife, Mari, and I created the Detlef Schrempf Foundation 20 years ago, our goal was to support charities in the Pacific Northwest that give underserved children and their families a better chance to live healthy and happy lives.

Since then, the foundation has raised more than $15 million for dozens of charities. But it has also made me very aware of the significant challenges many families face in committing to and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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My hometown of Seattle, where I was lucky enough to play for the SuperSonics for six years, is a well-known seafood capital of the world. Living here makes it easy to get the nutritional benefits of eating seafood as part of a healthy lifestyle. At this intersection of health, nutrition and seafood, I discovered the groundbreaking work being done by a national nonprofit called the Seafood Nutrition Partnership (SNP), of which I am proud to now be a board member.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced two studies that showed Americans fall far short of the USDA recommendation to eat seafood twice a week – a goal that would help reduce incidents of preventable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death for women and men in the United States. Scientific studies have shown that eating seafood twice a week can lower your cardiovascular disease risk by 36 percent. 

Every day, we are bombarded with confusing messages about our diets—don’t eat this, avoid that.   But eating seafood twice weekly is a simple and easy way for us to say “yes” to help our hearts and prevent chronic diseases.

At the heart of SNP’s mission is its Eating Heart Healthy program, which aims to increase awareness of heart health by helping Americans, especially women, who are at greatest risk of death from cardiovascular disease, and because women are so often heads of the household budget, we want to showcase how simple and inexpensive it can be to incorporate seafood into their diets and budgets. 

The Eating Healthy Heart program offers 90 minutes per week of interactive cooking and nutritional education workshops that teach simple steps for stretching food dollars with recipes using seafood that average $10 to feed a family of four. Results of last year’s Eating Heart Healthy pilot program showed that 92 percent of participants lowered their risk of sudden cardiac death.

That success led SNP to launch pilot public education campaigns in Memphis, Tenn., and Indianapolis, Ind. where I spent four years playing for the Indiana Pacers, but a city where heart disease is, unfortunately, all too prevalent. The SNP partnered with local chefs, community leaders and health professionals to host cooking demonstrations, free health screenings for omega-3 levels, restaurant events, and distribute free health education literature and recipes highlighting the nutritional benefits of seafood. 

The success of those pilots has led to an expansion of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership’s grassroots, public health education campaign “Love Your Heart – Eat Your Seafood” this October, also National Seafood Month, to a total of eight cities, including: Birmingham, AL; Charleston, WV; Indianapolis, IN; Jacksonville, FL; Lexington, KY; Memphis, TN; Oklahoma City, OK, and Toledo, OH.

The SNP’s public education campaign provides recipes that feed a family of four for $10 or less and the resources you and your loved ones need to help live a healthier lifestyle.  We can no longer stand by and take our heart health for granted. That’s why, this October, National Seafood Month, I want you to take the healthy heart pledge to eat seafood twice a week with me. 

Schrempf is a former NBA all-star, Founder of the Detlef Schrempf Foundation and board member of the Seafood Nutrition Partnership.