Toxins and Fish: Safe Food Guidelines
Fish and Toxins: Safe Food Guidelines
One of the healthiest food choices we can make is to eat fish.
Besides a source of low-fat and high-quality protein, it is a rich source of vital nutrients such as vitamin D—a nutrient that many people are deficient in. Fish is also rich in calcium and phosphorus, as well as other minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium.
Fatty types of fish are considered the healthiest because they are particularly good sources of vitamin D as well as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your body and brain to function optimally and are strongly linked to a reduced risk of many diseases.
Unfortunately, environmental pollutants such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can accumulate in foods, including fish. Some fish also contain elevated levels of heavy metals such as mercury, which can be toxic to the nervous, digestive, and immune systems. Fish that contain higher levels of mercury—and should thus be avoided—include shark, ray, swordfish, marlin, king mackerel, tilefish, orange roughly, ling, and southern bluefin tuna.
Some safe fish choices that typically contain lower levels of mercury include:
- Canned light tuna
- Shellfish such as prawns, lobster, and oysters
* As a general rule, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times per week as part of a healthy diet. *
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