FoodFacts.com has been following some recent news regarding the consumption of fish and fish oil supplements. Long touted as helpful in combating heart disease, information that was released a few short weeks ago seemed to dispel the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
But today, a new study coming out of a Swedish University seems to point to a different conclusion. More specifically, the study actually weighed the risks of the mercury content in fish against the benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids rich in some fish.
There are some fish that do contain pollutants that we don’t want included in our diets. Mercury is one of those pollutants and the levels of mercury present in fish varies between species. Mercury has been found to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, while the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has been believed to decrease the risk of that same disease. So these scientists focused their study on getting the facts on where we should be regarding our fish consumption.
We know that fish, in general, is a healthy food. It is generally a healthier protein source that most meats and, until a few weeks ago, folks understood that the omega-3 fatty acids contained in some fish was beneficial for heart health.
Researchers involved in this new study explored the risk of heart attack and its relationship to omega-3 fatty acids and mercury by studying the people who consume them regularly. They did this by measuring the levels of both from blood and hair samples from a group of participants that had previously participated in health research. Those who had heart attacks after their initial medical exams were compared with those who had not.
While, in fact, mercury levels were linked to a higher likelihood of heart attack, omega-3 fatty acids did appear to be related to decreased risk. And, the increased incidence of heart attack from mercury levels was found at only high levels discovered in the body. In addition, it was also linked to lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids. So, very high levels of mercury in the systems of people with very low levels of omega-3s were linked to elevated risk of heart attack. The researchers concluded that it is important for consumers to maintain a balance between both the beneficial and the In other words, what is important is the balance between healthful and harmful when consuming fish.
So our take away from this study is to choose our fish carefully, looking specifically for those that are lower in mercury while providing higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Here are a few varieties that fill that bill: shrimp, salmon, catfish, and pollock. Swordfish and tilefish have higher levels of mercury, and would be best left off the menu.
FoodFacts.com invites you to read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120924080303.htm