October 18th, 2006
Fish is healthy food that is good for body and brain. It is the omega-3s that make fish a healthy meal, and it is particularly oily fish that is rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) that may prevent cardiovascular disease.
Lately there have been warnings in media of pollutants in fish. However, now researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health report that the health benefits of fish consumption outweigh the risks. They have gone through a great number of reports and focused on cardiovascular disease and childrens brain development.
The benefits of eating fish are great, and the risk of dying of heart disease is reduced by 36 percent. In the clinical tests the researchers found a 17 percent reduced risk of total mortality. The researchers also conclude that it is likely that the brain development improves in fetus and young children when the mother consumes fish regularily.
Methylmercury may reduce the positive and protective effect fish may have on cardiovascular disease, but the benefits of fish consumption still outweigh the risks. Young children and pregnant/nursing mothers should however avoid fish that may contain high amounts of pollutants, because methylmercury could have a negative effect on childrens brains. Big fish that are high up on the food chain normally contain more contamination than smaller fish. This is because they live longer and they also eat the smaller fish and thereby accumulate more toxins.
One other thing that the researchers mention is that only nine percent of the PCBs and dioxines in food in the USA come from fish and other seafood. The remaining 91 percent is found in other types of food such as meat, vegetables and dairy products.
Mozaffarian, E. Rimm. Fish Intake, Contaminants, and Human Health: Evaluating the Risks and the Benefits, JAMA 2006;296:1885-1899.