What are the benefits of fish in the diet?
- Fish is low in calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. It's high in protein, making it a good substitute for poultry and red meat.
- Some types of fish, particularly cold-water dwelling fish, are high in beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fish rich in omega-3 include salmon, mackerel, trout, fresh tuna, herring and swordfish.
What are omega 3 fatty acids?
- Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in fish oil and other sources, like certain vegetables and seeds.
- These fatty acids protect the body from cardiovascular disease by decreasing the risk of arrhythmias which can lead to sudden cardiac death. They also decrease triglyceride (cholesterol) levels, decrease the growth rate of arterial plaque, and even help to lower blood pressure.
- The American Heart Association recommends at least two 3-ounce servings of omega-3 fatty acid fish each week.
Are there risks to fish consumption?
- Yes. Some varieties of fish can be high in mercury, the result of living in waters contaminated by industrial pollutants.
- While the risk to adults is low, infants and children can be harmed by the levels of mercury in fish. Mercury causes defects in the development of the brain and nervous system in both unborn babies and young children
- The FDA recommends that women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, nursing mothers, and children under five limit the amount of fish that they eat:
- Avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish, since these contain the highest high levels of toxins.
- Eat no more than 12 ounces a week of fish and shellfish that contain low levels of mercury, like shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
- Canned albacore tuna has higher levels of mercury than canned light tuna, so they should limit this to six ounces a week.