- Health authorities are encouraging us to eat more fish.
There is good reason. Higher intakes of omega-3 oils, the healthy oil found
in seafood, have been associated with dramatic reductions in cardiac deaths,
ischemic strokes, cancers, arthritic pain and disability, as well as acting
as a powerful protectant for the brain.
- But many fish are also high in mercury, which is one
of the most poisonous metals in existence, as well PCBs, dioxins, pesticides
- So, is it really safe to eat more fish, and if so, which
fish are safe? This, in essence, is the dilemma for the general public
and a significant number of scientists as well.
- The EPA (which regulates fish from sports fishing) and
the FDA (which regulates commercial seafood) have set limits for "safe"
mercury levels in seafood, but they do not share their concerns about contaminants
with the general public through the media or public alerts.
- The reason is they are treading a thin line of trying
to protect the public, while, at the same time, not wanting to destroy
the seafood industry. Likewise, they cannot even agree on a "safe"
level of mercury, with FDA levels being much lower than EPA levels.
- Independent studies have shown that the type of mercury
found in seafood, called methylmercury (or organic mercury), is highly
toxic to a number of organs and tissues, especially to the developing brain
of fetuses and newborns.
- The elderly are also at high risk because age has weakened
their cells, especially brain cells. Recent alerts have been issued by
the regulatory agencies, as well as physician groups, suggesting that pregnant
women should avoid eating fish known to have high mercury levels.
- Some seafood is naturally low in mercury and is safer
to eat. When buying seafood, chose:
- Wild Alaskan salmon
- Some seafood is high in mercury and PCBs:
- Chilean sea bass
- Orange roughy
- Atlantic salmon (farmed)
- The EPA and FDA list four fish that should never be eaten:
- King mackerel
- Despite this warning, most seafood restaurants serve
one or more of these toxic fish - and most grocery stores and supermarkets
sell them - and never even warn pregnant women of the danger. Remember
- mercury accumulates in the body and studies have shown that mercury accumulates
in the fetus in higher concentrations than in the mother.
- Here's a great cooking tip: Cook your seafood with garlic.
Garlic has been shown to bind and reduce levels of mercury in the body,
making it less toxic. For more detailed information on the dangers of eating
contaminated fish, read my full report, "Eating
Fish: What You Need to Know."