Fish: rich in omega 3 but also in mercury

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Carlos Laforet Coll
@carloslaforetcoll

Fish: yes or no? Fish offers an important nutritional contribution, providing proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. But, due to its position in the food chain, fish, especially if it is a large predator, can concentrate some toxic substances present in the environment such as methylmercury, which can put arteries at risk, causing heart attacks and damaging the brain.



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Fish: yes or no? The fish delivers an important nutritional contribution, providing proteins, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. But, due to its position in the food chain, fish, especially if it is a large predator, can concentrate some toxic substances present in the environment such as the methylmercury, which can put your arteries at risk, causing heart attack and damaging the brain.

To answer the "thorny" question is one study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, by Swedish researchers at Umea university that compares both the benefits and the dangers of consuming fish. Using data from Finland and Sweden, the researchers combined case-control data from one population of 361 Swedish and 211 Finnish men suffering from heart attack. Laboratory tests were carried out on them to check for the presence of fatty acids and mercury in the blood and hair.

Contrasting results emerged from the comparative analysis of benefits and dangers: "Our model indicated that even a small change in fish consumption it would prevent the risk of heart attack by 7%despite a small increase in mercury exposure. However, when the mercury rate in the hair is too high, the beneficial effect is canceled out by methylmercury ", reads the abstract. The solution, according to the researchers, is therefore to reduce the risk of heart attack consuming fish high in polyunsaturated fatty acids and low in methylmercury. It would be good, therefore, not to overdo it with tuna, swordfish, mackerel, grouper and other large predators in which mercury accumulates. An EFSA report also found that only large consumers of predatory fish are at risk of exceeding the provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) of methylmercury.


For this the European Commission, for greater protection of the most sensitive population groups such as children and pregnant women, recommended the consumption of a weekly portion not exceeding 100 grams for large predatory fish (such as swordfish, shark, merlin and pike) and no more than two weekly portions of tuna. Nevertheless there is an alternative way than indicated: to eliminate the risk of mercury and enjoy the benefits of fatty acids, you can consume an infinite variety of plant sources of Omega 3: flax seeds and oil, nuts and grains, green leafy vegetables, soy and legumes, algae and algal oil, hemp seeds, etc. All that remains is the embarrassment of choice, saving the life of a being who suffers as much as others when he dies.



Roberta Ragni

Read also:

- Not just fish: the 5 plant sources of Omega 3

- 6 good reasons for choosing not to eat tuna

- 10 foods to avoid during pregnancy

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