Megan Johnson McCullough –Fish are definitely a great protein source that is light, low in calories, and ha little bad fat. Consuming seafood is beneficial for the heart and even for neurological development. Yet there is controversy regarding the mercury that is found in fish which is in fact a toxic metal. Truth be told, the benefits of eating fish far exceed the traces of mercury. Mercury is released into our air and when it settles, lands on the ground and therefore in water as well. The fish absorb this product. The longer living fish and fish that eat other fish therefore have the highest level of mercury. This then means that larger fish (those that are eating the smaller fish) should be minimally consumed. These include shark, swordfish, king maceral, and tilefish.
The FDA does recommend eating fish about 2 times per week which is approximately 12 ounces total per week. This is of course keeping in mind the smaller fish to eat versus the larger options. However, pregnant women should consult their doctor for guidelines for fish in their diet.
There are health problems if too much mercury is in the body. Mercury has been associated with diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, and autism. These higher levels can impede brain functioning.
The biggest benefit of eating certain types of fish is the omega-3 fatty acids they contain. These are especially found in salmon, trout, oysters, maceral, crabs, and mussels. The body cannot manufacture omega 3 on its own, therefore it must be ingested through foods. We need this to help reduce the risk of heart disease, keep our skin healthy, and raise HDL which is the good cholesterol. There are also nutritional supplements that can be taken to avoid fish consumption. These might be useful for those who do not eat seafood at all whether by choice or dietary constrictions.
Some of the more commonly eaten types of fish are low in mercury such as canned tuna, salmon, catfish, shrimp, and pollock. We know that fish is good for us, but we can be more proactive about avoiding traces of mercury when we steer towards these fish choices. It’s difficult to eat absolutely and totally “clean”, but we can do the best we can and keep to our healthy, nutritious diets. Fried, baked, raw, or grilled, fish can be a tasty protein source that your body appreciates. Tastebuds and body needs differ for everyone but fish a couple times a week seems to be a pretty healthy decision.