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Fish and your Health

Probably like you, there are times I have been confused as to which type of fish to choose. There’s always a question of what might harm my health and what type of fish is good for me. On one hand, we have the dietary guidelines recommending we eat at least two servings of fish per week. But on the other hand, we hear that fish is high in mercury, they’re contaminated by pollution, or they’re not raised well. It’s hard to figure out who to believe or what to do, because fish is very healthy for us.


Health benefits of eating fish

Fish can be a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that can reduce the risk of heart disease, develop and maintain healthy brain function, may improve mood, decrease the risk for diabetes and prevent chronic inflammation. Omega-3s are necessary in our diets and if you eat fish, it’s one of the best ways to get them. In addition, fish is also a great lean protein option and one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, which promotes bone development and maintenance.


But what about all the contamination?

A study published in 2006 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that out of 100,000 people who ate fish two times per week for 70 years, only 24 deaths from cancer would actually occur due to the contaminants.  Alternatively, 7,000 deaths from heart disease would be prevented. As the health benefits of fish are put into perspective, it begins to look like the pros outweigh the cons. There are ways to work around the cons of eating fish, and the best way is to be educated about what to consume [i].

A helpful tool when choosing fish is Seafood Watch. Their mission is “to empower consumers and businesses to make choices for a healthy ocean.” Through the Monterey Bay Aquarium, they work to educate the public about sustainable seafood issues and make sound recommendations on which seafood items are best to choose. They have a fantastic mobile app to download as well. It allows you to search for seafood and sushi quickly and provides up-to-date recommendations. You’re even able to search for restaurants that serve ocean-friendly seafood.

If you enjoy eating fish, adding it into your weekly mix of meals is a healthy choice. 


[i] Mozaffarian, D; Rimm, E.B. 2006. Fish intake, contaminants, and human health: evaluating the risks and the benefits. JAMA 296(15): 1885-99
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