Fish Health Benefits Outweigh Mercury Exposure

Added by on November 30, 2010

The benefits of eating fish for a healthy heart may outweigh the associated increased exposure to mercury, says a recent Swedish study.

The study, which is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reported that restrictions are still required for certain fish species that are known to be high in mercury; such as perch, shark, swordfish and halibut.

Cold Tuna

Image by Giant Ginkgo via Flickr

More than 900 Swedish men and women participated in the study, led by Maria Wennberg and colleagues at Umea University, Sweden.

The participants answered questionnaires about their diets, and how much fish they consume. The level of mercury and selenium were also determined by studying their red blood cells.

Wennberg said about the findings: “The protective nutrients in fish override any harmful effect of mercury at these low levels of mercury.”

However, the results were questioned by David O. Carpenter at the University of Alabama’s Institute for Health and the Environment, who noted that the current study assumed that the mercury found in the participants’ blood had come from fish, when in fact there are many other potential sources; coal-fired power plants and dental fillings for instance.

In addition, fish in the Baltic Sea are often high in other toxic substances, which would further complicate the results.

It is recommended by the American Heart Association to eat fish at least two times a week; especially salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are believed to reduce the risk of heart disease.

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