Sunday, August 16, 2009

Get your omega-3s – carefully

I am really confused about what fish to eat. I hear that fish is good for my health but that some types are healthier and others should be avoided because of contamination. Could you please clarify what fish I should and should not eat?

Fish is a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to have numerous health benefits, including reducing inflammation and the risk of heart disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids may also reduce arthritis, decrease triglycerides, reduce blood clotting and reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death.

Since fish can be good for your health, it is recommended that a person eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish. But which fish should you eat?

To make it easy for you, here are some quick and easy "healthy fish basics":

1. Choose fish that is high in the omega-3s, or the "good fats." Fatty fish from the sea, including salmon, herring, and to a lesser extent tuna, are high in omega-3s. Most freshwater fish have less omega-3 fatty acid than do fatty fish from the ocean.

2. Eat less of the fish that are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Some fish, especially farmed fish like tilapia and catfish, contain more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. This is because farmed fish are often raised on corn-based diets, leading to higher levels of omega-6 and arachidonic acid in their tissues. Arachidonic acid in particular can contribute to inflammation and plaque buildup in your arteries.

3. Avoid contaminated fish: Five primary contaminants are mercury, PCBs, chlordane, dioxin and DDT. Contamination levels increase as they move up the food chain, so remember that the top predators in a food chain – such as largemouth bass or walleye – may have very high levels of chemical contamination. Pregnant and nursing women, as well as children, should especially avoid highly contaminated fish.

Some of the most commonly consumed fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon and pollock. Conversely, the Food and Drug Administration cautions against eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

4. Think sustainable.

For a complete listing, go to www.montereybay

And finally, if you are a vegetarian, non-fish food options that contain omega-3 fatty acids include flaxseed, flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, soybeans and soybean oil.

No comments:

Post a Comment