Eating fish can help you keep your heart healthy. The omega-3 fatty
acids found in most fish can significantly reduce your chances of
developing heart problems. Eating two or three servings of fish a week
can provide health benefits without running the risk of ingesting too
much mercury or other toxins. The levels of omega-3 and other nutrients
vary from fish to fish, and some fish are better for you than others.
Try eating salmon, sardines, tuna, and herring, but avoid fish with
unhealthy fatty acids like catfish or tilapia.
Salmon are an anadromous species, which means they’re born in fresh
water, then swim to the ocean, and finally return to fresh water to
breed. They’re a fatty fish high in protein, omega-3s, and vitamin D.
Some salmon is wild-caught, and some is farmed. In either case, salmon
is rich in nutrients and complements a healthy diet when consumed in
Excellent sources of B-vitamins and niacin, sardines can help
regulate your nervous system and metabolism. Plus, they’re packed with
omega-3 fatty acids and lots of minerals, so eating them can improve
your heart health too. They have low levels of mercury and other
contaminants, so they’re low-risk compared to other seafood.
Tuna are a predatory fish, so their levels of toxins (specifically
mercury) can often be higher than other fish. Variable farming methods
for tuna mean there’s a wide range of mercury levels in tuna you can buy
from a grocery store, and it also means there’s a range of viable
omega-3 fatty acids, proteins and other nutrients. Tuna can be a healthy
addition to your diet, but it’s not as reliable as fish like salmon or
Herring is full of omega-3 fatty acids and protein, and has been a
staple in some cultures for thousands of years. Generally, smaller
herring are safer to eat, as they’ve had less time to absorb toxins.
How To Safely Eat Fish
Remember: There are dangers to eating fish. The main concern is
mercury and other toxins. Naturally caught fish generally have lower
toxin levels than farm caught fish do, but fish that are higher on the
food chain, like tuna or sharks, can also have higher toxin levels. For
the most part, a healthy adult should have no problems with mercury
poisoning, but to be certain, you should limit the amount of fish you
eat to a few servings a week. Plus, try to stick with fish that are wild
caught, high in omega-3 fatty acids, and low on the food chain, like
salmon or sardines. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, try to limit
your fish intake even more, as babies are at the most risk. Children
should limit their seafood intake too.
Some states have advisories stating how much local fish is healthy to
consume, so pay attention to them and don’t eat more than recommended.
When mercury accumulates in your system, it can take a long time for
your body to get rid of it, so preemptive measures are usually the best.
In general, the health benefits of eating fish a few times a week
outweigh the dangers of consuming small levels of toxins like mercury.
Add some fatty fish to your meal plan to round out your diet and improve
your heart health. Just do it in moderation, as too much of anything
can be bad for you.