You’ve heard about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. They boost your heart health, they lift your mood, they protect your brain from disease… they even relieve joint pain.
And the best source of these miracle nutrients? You know the answer to that, too. Oily fish like salmon and tuna. But are these fish really safe for you to eat?
Now, I know you’ve probably already heard that many fish species are contaminated with mercury. But the problem doesn’t stop there.
A review of contaminants in fish and shellfish throughout the U.S. found that more than 30% of fish have levels of bio-accumulative toxins that are potentially cancerous. Twenty-nine percent have unsafe mercury levels. Eleven percent have unhealthy levels of DDT and DDT derivatives.
What this means is that you can’t trust the fish in our general food supply.
Bio-accumulative toxins build up in your system and can lead to cancers, nervous system issues and neurological disorders. Mercury is a well-known neurotoxin. In other words, you don’t want to eat foods that have unsafe levels of these substances.
So, how do you take advantage of the health benefits of fish while avoiding all these nasty drawbacks? Read on, and I’ll guide you through it.
Choosing Fish That are Good for You
The first step to choosing fish that’s healthy and non-toxic is to know which fish are most likely to be contaminated.
Typical fish with high levels of mercury and other contaminants include farmed salmon, Atlantic halibut, mackerel, tuna steaks, swordfish, shark and bass. You should avoid eating these fish unless you can find a source that guarantees the safety and cleanliness of the fish they sell.
Fish with moderate levels of contaminants include Alaskan halibut, crab, cod, Mahi Mahi, and Pollack. These kinds of fish are generally safe to eat a couple of times a month.
In the low-contaminant category, you have anchovies, crawfish, Pacific flounder, sole, tilapia, farmed catfish, scallops, clams, light canned tuna, and Alaskan salmon. You can eat these kinds of fish as often as you like with no ill effects.
Besides knowing which fish are clean and which are toxic, you can also protect yourself by purchasing your fish from a source that guarantees low-contaminant levels. These kinds of providers hold their product to strict quality standards, so you can relax and enjoy your fish worry-free. If you have difficulty finding low-contaminant fish locally, here’s a resource that I’ve heard great reviews about: Vital Choice Seafood.
To make sure you are getting all the omega-3 fatty acids your body needs, it is also a good idea to take a supplement. You can find a variety of supplements that contain these fatty acids and that are completely mercury and contaminant free.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.