Why Seafood Might Not Be As Healthy As You Think…

Eating seafood is good for you, right?? Here are a few reasons why it’s not quite that simple…

We all know seafood is good for you, right? It’s high in protein and low in fat, and the fat it contains is higher in Omega 3 fatty acids than most other protein sources.

According to this article, Omega-3s are known to “help alleviate a range of conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, certain cancers, asthma, Type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.”

And while most Americans already get plenty of protein, many of us don’t get enough variety in our protein sources, and variety is important for good health. This is another reason why dietary guidelines suggest that adults consume at least 2 servings of seafood per week.

But there are also some problems with simply adding more seafood to your diet. Here are a few reasons why eating more seafood might not be as healthy for you as you think…

Complication #1: Omega-3 fatty acids vary from fish to fish.

Here’s the catch: If you are dutifully eating your two servings a week, but it’s from tilapia, shrimp, scallops or catfish, you won’t actually be getting much of the health benefits from the omega-3 fatty acids.

That’s because seafood varies in its omega-3 fatty acids content, and many commonly consumed seafoods are not actually that high in omega-3s…

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Complication #2: Mercury.

A naturally occurring heavy metal in rock, mercury is released into the environment primarily through human processes such as the burning of fossil fuels.

Mercury makes its way into our waterways and bioaccumulates in the marine food chain. Generally speaking, small fish and shellfish are low in mercury, while the most mercury accumulates in big, long-lived predator fish such as king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, ahi (or yellowfin) tuna and bigeye tuna.

Humans, of course, are also part of that food chain. When we eat those big, long-lived predator fish, we ingest the mercury that’s accumulated in them.

Consuming mercury is definitely not a good thing. A little bit here and there is probably not going to harm the average adult, but with high exposure, mercury can damage key organs. Fetuses, infants and young children are vulnerable to mercury toxicity, as high exposure can cause serious, irreversible developmental and neurological damage.

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For optimizing the health benefits, the best seafood choices are those high in omega-3s and low in mercury. The Department of Agriculture’s ChooseMyPlate website lists several options that fit nicely in both categories, including salmon, trout, oysters, herring and sardines, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel.

Complication #3: Sustainability.

There is also the issue of sustainability. Let’s again take the case of tuna. For certain species, the method of harvest and the location of harvest matter a great deal…

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By now you are probably asking if there are any win-win-win fish.

Yes!

Alaskan salmon is a popular one, but Alaskan salmon is sold at a premium price. Most of the salmon sold in the United States, though, is farmed Atlantic salmon, which typically has a poor sustainability rating.

Pacific sardines, farmed mussels, farmed rainbow trout and Atlantic mackerel (not trawled) are some other “win-win-win” options.

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When making food choices, sometimes we’re fortunate and the health and sustainability goals line up. Eating less red and processed meat, for example, is a choice that’s good for your health and better for the environment. Unfortunately, with many seafood choices, these three important considerations — omega-3s, mercury and sustainability — sometimes — but don’t often — align as we might like them to.

Read the full article at WashingtonPost.com

 

 

 

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