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Eating seafood over red meat for several health reasons. Fish provide a lean source of protein and are low in saturated fats.
However, many species have been dangerously overfished and others contain Salmon is a healthy addition to the diet, but choose wild salmon, which has lower levels of PCBs.
high amounts of mercury, PCBs, pesticides or even microplastics. Thus, if we choose to consume seafood, we should do so wisely. Today, we will look at some of the pros and cons of eating fish.
INFANTS: Fatty fish provides a rich source of two important long chain omega 3 fatty acids: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), with 22 carbons, and eicosahexanoic acid (EPA), with 20 carbons. DHA plays a crucial role in the development of the brain (cerebral cortex), the eye (retina) and sperm. Adequate DHA consumption is particularly important during pregnancy and infancy. Thus, pregnant women may be advised to take a supplement of DHA from algae oil and DHA is added to infant formula and to some infant and toddler foods.
HEART DISEASE AND OTHER DISEASES: Harvard University found that eating 2,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (1-2 servings of fatty fish) a week reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by as much as 36 percent. Based on these findings, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the American Heart Association recommend eating fish 2 or 3 times a week. The long-chain omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish may also reduce the risk of stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and other diseases.
MERCURY AND POLLUTANTS: But what about the mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and pesticides found in fish?
Mercury is a neurotoxin and can also increase the risk of heart disease. Most health organizations believe that the risks of eating fish are outweighed by the benefits provided that the fish consumed are not high in mercury.
The EPA and FDA recently updated their advice on eating fish and suggest that pregnant and breastfeeding women and children increase their consumption of fish. The new recommendation suggests that adults and children over 10 years of age should eat 2-3 servings (one serving is 4 ounces) of fish and shellfish per week but no more than 12 ounces per week to obtain the health benefits of fish from a variety of different fish and to avoid very high mercury fish (shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tile fish).
One to two servings of fish per week are recommended for children 10 and younger with smaller servings for younger children. The EPA also provides detailed advice for choosing seafood wisely at epa.gov/choose-fish-and-shellfish-wisely.
PCBs are another contaminant of concern and a potential carcinogen. These are stored in fatty tissue and get concentrated up the food chain. Dietary sources include meat, dairy, eggs, vegetables and fish.