In light of ongoing concerns over mercury levels in fish, a team of researchers has conducted a study which found that the health benefits of fish outweigh the negative impacts when consumers choose wisely.
The joint study out of Sweden and Finland aimed to create a risk-benefit model that would shed light on the risk of mercury consumption, versus the value of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to everything from heart health to cognitive function and improved eyesight.
Published in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study examined mercury levels and omega-3 concentrations in the hair and blood samples of 361 Swedish men and 211 men from Finland, all of whom had suffered from a heart attack.
While methyl mercury in fish may, indeed, pose a health risk, even a small change in fish consumption was found to prevent 7 percent of heart attacks in men, as long as mercury levels remained low.
The conclusion? Eat fish, but avoid large predatory species like pike and perch which contain a lot more mercury than smaller ones.
The US Food and Drug Administration also offers a consumer’s guide to different types of fish, advising against the consumption of shark, swordfish, King mackerel, and tilefish for their high mercury content.
• Five of the most commonly eaten types of seafood low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
• Eat up to 12 ounces (the equivalent of two average meals) a week of fish and shellfish that are low in mercury.
• Opt for canned light tuna over albacore tuna, which contains more mercury.