Oct 9 2012

Fish on Fridays: Omega 3s vs. Mercury – Is Seafood Good For You?

It seems there’s a never-ending see-saw battle in scientific research about certain consumables. Red wine will decrease incidence of cardiovascular disease! No it won’t. Dark chocolate will lower your body mass index! Or not.

Seafood is no different. For every report that Omega 3 fatty acids are the fountain of youth, there’s another study warning seafood lovers about looming poison from excessive quantities of heavy metals, especially mercury. But are Omega 3s really that beneficial? And what to make of reports that selenium in fish can counterbalance the negative effects of mercury? And just what the hell is selenium, anyway? What’s the truth about fish?

Of course, there’s no black-and-white answer, but I’ll try to sort through a few of the bigger issues and provide a bit of guidance about what to look for at the fish counter to maximize the benefits and reduce your risk.

First of all, a disclaimer: I’m an ocean policy wonk, not a doctor, so take all this info with a grain of salt (figuratively, people, watch that blood pressure!) and ask your doctor if you have deeper questions—particularly if you’re pregnant.

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