Why Do the 'Experts' Still Recommend Eating Fish?
January 07, 2006
Americans, even pregnant and nursing women and children, should eat seafood two times a week, according to a statement issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The new guidelines were issued despite concerns that pollutants may be contaminating fish and other seafood.
Benefits of Omega-3 Touted
The new statement includes findings that say seafood reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, stroke, diabetes and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
Further, nutrients in fish including salmon, shrimp, pollock, cod, canned light tuna and catfish -- particularly omega-3 fatty acids, iodine and choline -- are important in brain development and may improve conditions such as autism, attention deficit disorder and dyslexia, researchers say.
What About the Mercury?
The guidelines have based their recommendations on a 10-fold safety margin regarding mercury contamination.
Further, according to the NOAA statement, pregnant women can protect their infants from mercury contamination in fish by not eating the following seafood until after they have delivered and are no longer breastfeeding:
- Shark or whale meat
- King mackerel
- Tuna steaks
They also say women should avoid these fish for six months before becoming pregnant.
Researchers also mentioned that selenium, which is present in ocean fish, neutralizes the effects of mercury from these foods, making the benefits of seafood much greater than the mercury risks.
The guidelines were presented at a conference sponsored by the United States, Norway, Canada and Iceland governments, and assisted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.