Harvard Heart Letter

Fish: Friend or foe?

In addition to heart-healthy omega-3 fats, seafood can carry mercury and other toxins. For most people, the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks.

If you are an average American, you eat 16 pounds of seafood a year. Although that's only a fraction of U.S. chicken consumption, it still represents a lot of fish and shellfish "" nearly 5 billion pounds a year. Many people eat seafood because they love it. But more and more are choking it down as a kind of health food.

Is it? Seafood is a great source of protein that's low in saturated fat, and many types have good-for-the-heart omega-3 fats. But fish can also contain mercury and other toxins. Two reports, coincidentally released on the same day, weigh the benefits and risks of eating fish and shellfish.

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