Fish is a healthy food—there’s no contesting that. It’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to have a balancing effect on mood. It’s a low-fat food that also happens to be a high-quality protein.
Fish also has a pretty impressive array of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, B2, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, zinc, iodine, and magnesium. In fact, the American Heart Association actually recommends eating fish at least twice a week as part of a heart-healthy diet.
So, what’s the problem with fish consumption? Why is there an ongoing debate in health news circles about whether to eat or not to eat fish? In one word: mercury. High levels of this neurotoxin are definitely not good for you. But if you still want to eat some fish, what should you do?
Here’s a health tip, courtesy of researchers at the Insubria University in Varese, Italy: stay away from swordfish and shark. The Italian research team investigated the content of 169 news articles related to “mercury and fish consumption” that appeared from 1990 to 2010 in order to identify the coverage of benefits vs. risks associated with fish consumption.
Hypotheses were made by the researchers on how the public might change fish consumption patterns as a result of media coverage. They determined that, depending on the information source, the public could:
1) reduce its fish intake,
2) increase its fish intake,
3) become confused about the problem.
Their way out of this predicament? The media, in cooperation with scientists, public health nutritionists and dietitians, should place more emphasis on the existence of a few fish species with high to very high mercury levels and relatively low contents of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
Two fish species that were mentioned as an example were swordfish and shark. This way, you should be able to make more educated decisions about how to maximize the benefits of eating fish while reducing possible risks from consuming mercury.