The American Heart Association has recommended eating fish rich in unsaturated fats, called omega-3, at least twice a week. Eating fish is beneficial to the heart as it contains nutrients that reduce the risk of dying due to a heart condition.
However, some people are concerned that eating fish might also mean they would be ingesting mercury or other contaminants in seafood. But the benefits of eating fish as part of the diet outweigh the possible risks of being exposed to contaminants. Here are some reasons why adding fish to the diet is important.
Omega-3 Is Good for the Heart
Omega-3 fatty acids are an unsaturated fatty acid that could reduce inflammation throughout the body, which damages the blood vessels and could lead to heart diseases and strokes.
Omega-3 fatty acids could decrease triglycerides, slightly lower the blood pressure, reduce blood clotting, decrease the risk of strokes and heart failure, and reduces irregular heartbeats.
Eating at least twice a week of omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish could significantly reduce the risk of heart disease and reduces the possibility of dying from cardiac arrest.
In choosing what type of fish to eat, choose the fatty fish containing the most omega-3 fatty acids, although many types of seafood contain a small amount of omega-3.
Some of these fishes are salmon, sardine, Atlantic mackerel, cod, herring, lake trout, and canned, light tuna.
Amount of Fish To Eat
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), people should include fish in their diet. But pregnant or breast-feeding women and young children should avoid eating fish with the potential of high levels of mercury contamination.
However, adults should eat at least eight ounces or two servings of fish rich in omega-3 in a week. For pregnant or planning to get pregnant women, they should have at least 12 ounces of seafood every week from different sources to avoid mercury contamination.
Meanwhile, the serving size for children younger than age 2 is 1 ounce and increase as they get older. It is still important that they eat fish once in a while.
Ultimately, to get the most out of the benefits of the fish, pay attention to how it was prepared: grilled, broiled, or bake is the healthier option than deep-frying.
Avoiding Eating Fish Due To Mercury Contamination
For most adults, the risk of mercury contamination is outweighed by the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids they could get. Mercury contamination depends on the type of fish and where it was caught since mercury occurs naturally in a small amount in nature. It is only because of industrial pollution that makes it accumulate in the lakes, rivers, and oceans.
Examples of fish that may contain high levels of mercury include shark, tilefish, swordfish, and king mackerel. The higher the fish in the food chain, the higher the concentrations of mercury as well.
According to the Mayo Clinic, it is unlikely for mercury to cause any harm to adults, but in case it does, it is particularly harmful to brain development and the nervous system of unborn children. That is why the US FDA recommends that pregnant or breast-feeding women and young children should limit eating fish.
But then again, limiting fish intake does not necessarily mean not to eat fish. These people should just eat enough amount of fish every week.
Other Foods That Contain Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids appear to have more benefits than taking in supplements. But other foods also contain an omega-3 fatty acid that is non-fish.
This includes flaxseed and flaxseed oil, walnuts, canola oil, soybeans and soybean oil, chia seeds, green leafy vegetables, cereals, pasta, dairy products, and other food fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.
However, the evidence of omega-3 fatty acids benefits from these foods is not as strong as eating fish.