Health Benefits of Fish : Despite contaminants, fish yields a net health gain

Boston, MA — Research continues to confirm that the omega-3 fatty acids found in oily, dark-fleshed fish offer genuine health benefits, says the Harvard Men's Health Watch. Eating fish regularly can help ward off the serious heart rhythm disturbances associated with sudden cardiac death. It also appears to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes, mental decline in old age, and prostate cancer. Fish oil is one way to get omega-3s, but the Harvard Men's Health Watch points out that eating fish provides other important nutrients like selenium, antioxidants, and protein. What's more, people who eat fish tend to consume less meat and cheese, and they may add other healthy foods to their diets, such as vegetables and brown rice. But there is a small "catch" to this potent health food. Fish may absorb contaminants found in the waters. Methyl mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are of particular concern. The Harvard Men's Health Watch explains that while pregnant women and children should limit intake of high-mercury species — swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, among others — eating these fish is much less worrisome for adults. Farmed fish such as salmon have little mercury, but they may have PCBs. The Harvard Men's Health Watch recommends removing the skin and fat before cooking to minimize exposure. Currently the EPA recommends limiting consumption of farmed and wild salmon.
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