Value of omega-3 fatty acids outweighs mercury in fish

WASHINGTON – Eating fish is good, but eating the right kind is even better.

A study published in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds the health benefits of fish outweigh the negatives, such as mercury consumption.

Researchers concluded that 7 percent of heart attacks in men could be prevented with a change in their diets, one that involved more fish consumption, provided the fish was low in mercury, The New York Daily News reports.

The study involved 361 Swedish men and 211 Finnish men who had heart attacks. It looked at their mercury levels and omega-3 concentrations in their hair and blood samples. Researchers created a risk-benefit model that found the value of the omega-3 fatty acids outweighed the risks of mercury.

All fish contain the necessary omega-3 fatty acids that are valued for their health contributions to heart disease prevention and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids even help improve skin and build-up bones.

The fish to avoid eating are large predatory ones, such as shark, marlin and orange roughy, which the Natural Resources Defense Council lists as having the most mercury.

Shrimp, crab, salmon, flounder and tilapia are among the fish lowest in mercury.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has a calculator to help determine how much mercury is in fish.

WTOP’s Randi Martin contributed to this story. Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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