Harvard Health Letter

Coming out of its shell

As fish stocks dwindle, we may find ourselves eating other sorts of seafood. Is shellfish a good alternative?

If it's just your own health you're worried about, eating lots of fish is a good idea. All that protein. Those omega-3 fats. Sure, you don't want to go overboard with the swordfish and other species known to contain mercury, but otherwise, eat up — it's good for your heart, and maybe your brain.

But if you're worried about the environment, and ocean ecosystems in particular, those fish dinners may come with some serious misgivings. Fish stocks in many of the world's oceans are at precarious levels. According to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 80% of them are fully or overfished. Farmed fish helps take some of the pressure off dwindling supplies, but fish farming has its own problems — the heavy use of antibiotics, the concentration of fecal matter.

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