Fish- The Good and The Bad

May 6, 2015
Cooked Fish on Greens

So what is so good about fish?

Reports from the government and a Harvard report shared that eating fish can lower your risk of heart disease. The reason this is true is still unknown but there are a couple hypothesis out there. First, it could be that fish which are low in saturated fat, replace less healthy foods such as red meat. Or it could be due to the fish’s omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are also known as good fats that may help prevent other health issues like inflammation and blood clots. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help to prevent arrhythmias and help lower triglycerides. Whatever the reason is, fish provide benefits!

So what is bad about fish?

Most think of the toxins that fish contain like mercury and other contaminants. Well nearly all fish do contain some mercury although amounts vary. So should you avoid fish because of mercury? Only women who may or are pregnant, nursing moms and young children are informed to stay away from shark, tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel, and white albacore tuna. For the rest of us, it is important to still choose fish that are low in mercury. And fortunately there are plenty out there.

Farmed vs. Wild Fish?

Well in the case of the salmon, farmed poses some concerns. The concerns are around polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB’s). Some studies have found higher levels of PCB’s, which are found in farmed fish’s food, in farmed salmon than in wild salmon. Wild salmon is a better choice because of their varied diet—they consume far less PCB’s than the farmed counterpart.

What to do?

1. Eat fish in moderation: 2-3 times per week and about 4-6 oz per serving, and be sure to vary your choices.

2. Your best choice would be fatty fish that are lower on the food chain (less mercury). Fish options include sardines, herring and anchovies. These fish are high in omega-3 and are also usually a good choice from an environmental standpoint.

3. Choose wild salmon if available.

4. How to cook your fish: choose to broil, bake or grill your fish on a rack instead of sautéing or frying it. This allows the fat, to drain off but still leaving you with the beneficial omega-3.

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