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There Are Many Benefits to Eating Fish
We all know that fish is a healthy food. It's a great protein source that's comparatively low in saturated fats. But the main reason for fish's well-deserved reputation is the fact that it's the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids. And because of that, fish pretty well stands out as a food where the fattiest varieties are the most sought after for their health benefits, salmon being the prime example.
Research has shown that there are many benefits to consuming high quantities of Omega-3 fats. First of all is the protection they confer against cardiovascular problems. They also have been shown to provide a reduced risk of both prostate cancer and macular degeneration, which can cause blindness. Omega-3s also are useful in helping diabetics control their condition and have shown promise in combatting other conditions as diverse as Asthma and Alzheimer's disease.
There are 3 main types of Omega 3 fatty acids. They are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). EPA and DHA are found mainly in animal products and in their largest concentrations in fish. ALA comes from vegetable sources such as flaxseed, walnuts, soybeans and tofu. However, ALA needs to be converted to EPA and DHA before the body can utilize it, and this process can be hindered by a number of factors, which can vary from person to person, making EPA and DHA the preferred sources of Omega-3.
Of course, the possible ontamination of fish with industrial chemicals such as mercury has received much press coverage in recent years. However, it is still possible to eat sufficient quantities of fish and be reasonably sure of avoiding these pollutants. You just need to be selective about the type of fish. Generally, larger fish that reside higher up in the food chain are found to have more concentrated levels of contamination. This is because smaller fish will usally absorb a very limited amount of the chemicals from living in the water and ingestin plankton and similar sea life.
However, a larger predator fish will also absorb some just from being in the water, then will ingest more because of eating the smaller fish. This effect is compounded in the next larger predator fish, and the next, until we can see a quite pronounced level of contamination in the largest species. The solution? Eat the smaller fish, such as sardines and herring, or eat non-predator species, which don't consume smaller fish, such as salmon or whiting. Be aware however, that farmed salmon, which has become extremely popular due to its lower cost, has been implicated as being contaminated with a number of chemicals including PCB's. So try to stick with wild salmon if you choose this variety of fish.
The government has stated that pregnant women, children and infants should limit their intake of fish because they're more likely to experience health challenges due to mercury intake, so people in these categories should definitely stick to the fish with lower mercury levels.
However, it seems to me that the weight of the evidence falls heavily in favor
of consuming some fish on a regular basis. The benefits to health greatly outnumber
the possible risks, as least to the majority of the population. Stick to varities
show to have the least contamination, and you should see many benefits.
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