The Fish Debate Rages On

If you keep up with the headlines regarding mercury contamination in fish you’ll soon realize there are a few different schools of thought; totally avoid fish, the benefits of seafood outweigh the risks, or downplay/disregard mercury contamination all together. You can find all three positions in a recent article written by Sally Squires of The Washington Post:
Some health experts worry there's enough conflicting advice to make the public avoid fish altogether.

"It's a shame that people are running away from seafood at a time when it gives so many benefits," notes William Lands, a retired National Institutes of Health researcher who has studied the healthy fats found in fish.

That could be a big mistake. The benefits of eating seafood "are likely to be at least 100-fold greater than the estimates of harm, which may not exist at all," according to Walter Willett, professor of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. He notes that "the kinds of levels of contaminants that are being talked about are not a reason for people to reduce their fish intake."
Some call limiting fish consumption unfortunate:
Whether fish is farm-raised or wild, "it would be unfortunate if people cut their consumption," Willett says. Neither the mercury concern nor the PCB contamination levels are "enough for people to reduce their fish intake."

Also lost in much reporting is the fact that any potential problems of mercury contamination appear to be limited to children and to women of childbearing age.

"Other adults should not be concerned about mercury at all," notes Joshua Cohen, author of a recent analysis of mercury exposure conducted for the Harvard School of Public Health's Center of Risk Analysis.
The worry about abandoning or strictly limiting seafood intake stems from concern over people not getting enough Omega-3:
Omega-3s are so crucial for brain and nervous system development "that limiting fish consumption during pregnancy may cause the very harms that everyone involved has been working to prevent," says Nicholas Ralston, who studies mercury at the University of North Dakota's Energy & Environmental Research Center.
Whether or not you believe in mercury contamination or you feel that eating fish does more good than harm, I still ask this question. Since mercury contamination is a concern and Omega-3s are so vital, why don’t news reports inform people of alternative sources of Omega-3, instead of harping on the risk-reward dilemma of eating or not eating fish?

Dr. Fuhrman will be the first to tell you Omega-3s are an important part of a healthy diet, but fish isn’t the only place you can get them. In Eat to Live and in his store you’ll find some mercury-free options:
Add A Few Grams of Omega-3 To Your Diet
  • Flaxseed, 1 tablespoon = 1.7 grams
  • Flax oil, 1 teaspoon = 2.2 grams
  • Walnuts, English (12 walnut halves), 4 tablespoons = 2 grams
  • Soybeans (green, frozen, or raw), 1 1/2 cup = 2 grams
  • Tofu, 1 1/2 cup = 2 grams

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Comments (2) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Sam - August 10, 2006 7:57 PM

I never see my favorite source of ALA mentioned when the topic of Omega-3 is covered.

Healthy Times Newsletter No 5 March 2003 page 4 paragraph 5:

"Of interest to those who eat a high-nutrient diet with the inclusion of lots of leafy greens is that greens are another rich source of ALA. Traditional nutritionists have not considered leafy greens a source of ALA because they reasoned people would not eat enough of them to get a significant contribution of omega-3 fat. But guess what? When you eat one pound of greens each day, you get two grams of ALA, which is as much as from your flaxseed or walnuts. Those individuals who are following my guidelines for excellent health and a slim waistline as outlined in my book, Eat To Live, are eating a diet with a favorable ratio of fatty acids...."

Yet another reason to eat those greens!

Question for Dr Fuhrman: does it matter if the greens are raw versus cooked when it comes to the ALA quantity and quality?


Leanne - August 11, 2006 1:09 AM

Just the thought of what fish are swimming in s enough to prevent me from wanting to eat them!

Oddly enough, I have friends who won't swim at the beach because it is 'too polluted', yet will happily eat fish and shellfish from the very same beach area - animals that have lived and breathed those same mucky, contaminated waters for years.

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