I often hear concerns expressed about Mercury in fish. Fortunately (for me), the illustrious Chris Kresser has already landed this one hook, line, and sinker (I should warn you that the puns are here to stay).
Here’s his great article: Is Eating Fish Safe? A Lot Safer Than Not Eating Fish!
And since you may not all be great students, here’s his bulleted breakdown of the important points:
- Selenium protects against mercury toxicity, and 16 of the 25 highest dietary sources of selenium are ocean fish
- If a fish contains higher levels of selenium than mercury, it is safe to eat
- Most species of commonly eaten fish in the U.S. have more selenium than mercury
- Fish are not significant sources of PCBs and dioxins when compared to meat, dairy or vegetables
- The benefits of eating fish regularly far outweigh the potential risks, which are neglible
- Pregnant mothers and young children should eat 2-3 servings of oily ocean fish each week
He lists quite a few health benefits to eating fish. The largest benefit many of us will likely see with increased fish consumption is remediation of any systemic inflammation. This reduction is due (in large part) to the dose of Omega-3 (commonly “n-3”) fatty acids (referred to as PUFA, or polyunsaturated fatty acids, and LCFA, or long-chain fatty acids):
“Animal and human studies suggest that n-3 LCFA suppresses cell mediated immune responses. Increasing the amount of n-3 LCFA while decreasing omega-6 fatty acids leads to improvements and a decrease of steroid use in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.”
It’s well understood that systemic inflammation is the culprit behind many western diseases (diabetes, arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, acne, heart disease, liver disease). More recently, research has hinted that even the common cold susceptibility is dependent upon inflammatory state.
An important take-away from the quote above is that while increasing n3 can help suppress inflammation, it is also critical to decrease n6 consumption. So to really maximize your returns on fish consumption, you should avoid vegetable oils (that’s a misnomer) as much as possible.
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