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Friday, January 25, 2008

The health of tuna fish

For those of you interested in your food choices, here is an interesting article, The Danger of Not Eating Tuna. I like to mix up canned salmon (or tuna) with relish, spices, and mayo and put it on toast for a tasty and somewhat healthy lunch choice. So, I'm always interested in reading about mercury in fish and/or the benefits of eating fish.

Here are a few excerpts from the article:

Just so we know, which fish are higher and which are lower in mercury?

Shellfish are almost all low in mercury because they don't live very long and they're small: shrimp, lobster, crab, scallops. And shellfish have medium levels of omega-3s, similar to other medium-size fish. Salmon are also good. They're high in omega-3s and low in mercury because they're also short-lived.

Light tuna is low in mercury, compared with white (albacore) or red (bluefin) tuna. On average white tuna has three times the mercury as light tuna. But on average white tuna has three times the omega-3s as light tuna — and all the evidence that we can see suggests that omega-3s have more benefit than mercury has harm.

The bottom line

The bottom line is that there's inconclusive evidence that mercury has any long-term effects in adults at the levels that are commonly consumed, and that even if there are effects, studies suggest that they are only to lessen the benefit of the fish. That's important from a public health perspective — we might be getting even more benefit from fish on a population level if we took the mercury out, and that's a very important question that should be answered. But that doesn't mean that the individual person trying to decide on a fish meal should worry about mercury.

I know I sound like I'm trying to downplay the risk but I really think we are experimenting with people's lives when we give recommendations or write stories or reports that make people eat less fish. We know from very good human studies that fish intake reduces the risk of dying from a heart attack by about a third. And heart attack is the number-one cause of death in the U.S. among both women and men. It's the number-one cause of death in almost every country in the world. And eating fish once or twice a week reduces that risk by a third. So if we're causing people not to eat fish or to choose to eat something other than fish because they're worried that the fish has some mercury in it, they're increasing their risk of dying from a heart attack for a concern that has not been established.


Melody said...

I had no idea that mercury was even a risk with fish.

but I really think we are experimenting with people's lives when we give recommendations or write stories or reports that make people eat less fish.

Of course they're experamenting with people's lives. They have nothing better to do than yank us back and forth on what's healthy and what's not.

Carrots are good for your eye-sight. Whoops! Turns out that was just a rumor we started to fool some Nazi's.

Butter is bad for your health, eat Margerine. Oopsy, turns out Margerine is so nutritionally void that even bugs won't eat it.

Have some apertame instead of sugar or sacharine so you can lose weight and be health! Oh, aspertame in linked with MS and increased weight gain? Our bad.

Anyhow, if people are really scared off fish they can take Omega-3 pills. Mercury free.
That's what I do, since they only way I enjoy fish is when it's mixed in with so much mayonaise that it maks Mickey D's look healthy.

chris van allsburg said...

apparently, lots of mercury in the fish in lake michigan, just a mile from my little house.

But, i've been going more veggie lately, and i'm glad for this post. more fish please!

Omega 3's! mmmm!

chris van allsburg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chris van allsburg said...

BTW-- i met a guy on the pier in Grand Haven who was fishin' fer trowt. We got to talking about the mercury levels in fish, and he started commenting on know-it-all scientists and their meaningless rants concerning toxins in the fish.

"I've been eatin' these fish all my life, and I ain't no dummer," he said.

chris van allsburg said...


derdsgirl said...

What about the mercury risk for expectant mothers? Moms with a fairly low mercury level, can pass off enough mercury to their child in womb to be toxic. The baby can't rid their systems of the mercury as easily as the mom can, so it just builds up until the levels reach "toxic." So while yes, it may be true the mercury may not have too much of an adverse effect on *most* adults, I think it could be bad in this case. I just started researching this today...so I'll have to come back with more info later, but I thought it might be a thought provoking comment for now.

Jonathan Erdman said...

I will be sure to pass that info along to any woman I may inadvertently impregnate!

Jonathan Erdman said...

By the waaaayyy......are you hinting at something? Perhaps a teeny little teeshirt saying "Derd's Kid" is being made?????

derdsgirl said...

Let me dispell any thoughts of me being pregnant right now...cause I'm not.

I just feel very called to be a wife and mother, so I endlessly research pregnancy, childbirth, childrearing etc. I spend literally hours a day reading about this stuff. (probably when I should be doing "housewifey" things like the dishes...)

derdsgirl said...

Let me say that I am sorry for lying to you in my last comment. I did not know that it was a lie at the time. You can make one of those t-shirts if you like.

Jonathan Erdman said...

He, he......so, I guess I was a prophet!