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Is Fish Good For You?

The Nutrition Twins comment:


Is fish really as good for you as they say?

You bet! Seafood is packed with health benefits. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of protein, vitamins and minerals minus the saturated fat you’ll get from most other meats. And fatty fish like salmon and tuna are great sources of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is important for immunity, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is essential for vision and nervous system development.

Here’s what eating fish can do for you (thanks to omega-3 fatty acids):

• Keep the Heart Healthy—-may help to protect against heart attacks and strokes by keeping cholesterol and triglyceride levels down, lowering blood pressure, stabilizing irregular heartbeats, and acting as a natural blood thinner
• Fight Depression—studies show that omega-3’s may help to improve mood and mental health disorders
• Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease-- preliminary studies show that eating fish may help to prevent this brain disease
• Prevent onset of Diabetes and help fight diabetes—-appears to prevent insulin resistance in those who have Type II diabetes
• Combat Inflammatory diseases—help reduce pain and inflammation from arthritis and other inflammatory diseases like lupus

Why else should you eat fish?

In today’s processed-food world, we get too little omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish) compared to the omega-6 fatty acids (found in corn, soybeans, and whole grains as well as in foods that you should eat less of like baked goods, fried foods and margarine). Omega- 6’s encourage inflammation while omega-3’s help to prevent it. The two need to be in balance—-too weak an inflammatory response makes it difficult to fight infection and too much inflammation in the body is linked to many chronic diseases. The ratio of omega-6 fatty acids (linoleic) to omega-3 fatty acids is very important since both omega-3s and omega-6s fight for the same metabolic pathway in our bodies. The excess omega 6 in our diets has left us in a constant state of inflammation. The ideal ratio of the two types of fats is 1:1. If you’re like the average American you get 16 times more omega-6s than omega-3s.

The Solution? Focus on eating more fish and less baked goods and fried foods. Avoid cooking with corn and soybean oils.

How much Fish should I eat?

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish per week. A serving is just 3 ounces (the size of a deck of cards), so if you go to a restaurant, you will likely get served both servings at one sitting. Pregnant women and young children should avoid fish high in mercury and should have no more than two servings per week of low-mercury fish and no more than five servings a week of very low-mercury fish.

What’s the deal with mercury?

Mercury is released into the air through industrial pollution and ends up in both fresh and salt water. Yuck! Larger, long-lived fish like swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and shark feed on smaller fish and accumulate the most mercury. Children, women of child-bearing age and pregnant women should avoid all fish that is high in mercury, as mercury can cause a host of problems, including nerve damage.

Which fish are lowest in mercury?

These fish are VERY low in mercury :
Anchovies, Clams, Crawfish/Crayfish, Hake, Herring,Oysters, Pollock, Salmon, Sardines, Talapia and Whiting

These fish are LOW in mercury :
Butterfish, Catfish, Cod, Crab, Croaker (Atlantic), Flounder, Haddock, Jacksmelt, Mackerel (north Atlantic) Mullet, Mussels, Perch (Ocean or White), Scallops, Shad (American), Sole, Squid/Calamari, Trout (Freshwater), Tuna (Canned Light) and Whitefish

Tip: To get the most omega-3s with the least mercury, try having salmon, herring, whitefish or sardines.

Note: Sushi lovers beware: tuna contains a substantial amount of mercury and should also be limited.


Should I take a Fish oil supplement?

Fish should be your main source of omega-3 fats, but even people who eat fish frequently may come up short. Fish oil supplements can help you to meet your omega-3 fat goal. Fish supplements are an option for those who don’t like fish or for those who simply want to ensure that they’re getting enough Omega 3’s. Many supplements are mercury free. Our favorite is Nordic Naturals brand, which is very high-quality. Two of Nordic Natural’s Ultimate Omega a day will help you to meet your omega 3 requirements.

Final note and warning: Don’t take more than 3000 mg of fish oil a day. A small number of people who overdid it ended up with internal bleeding.


November 1, 2007 in Mediterranean Diet Tips & News | Permalink