The media is full of warnings about contaminated fish. Is fish good for you?

If you read our website you’ll know that we talk a lot about the health benefits of the Omega 3 fats, and also that fish are the best source of the Omega 3 fats. Or at least the important ones DHA and EPA. And of course fish oil supplements are the most cost-effective and best way to get your Omega 3.

But there’s plenty more reasons to eat fish. There’s nutrients in fish beyond the Omega 3 fats, fish and nutrition go together.

So let’s consider some of the other nutrients in fish today. Lets see why fish should make up a percentage of your weekly diet.

One of the nutrients in fish is protein

Fish are extremely good sources of protein. Protein is an essential part of your diet.

Every single cell in your body needs a supply of protein for good health. The roles of proteins include building and repairing damaged tissues in your body, protein makes up a large part of your hair and nails as well as being essential for healthy bones, skin and muscles.
Is fish good for you
An adequate supply of protein is essential to good health, and most fish has around 15 to 20 percent protein.

Protein is what has been called a “macronutrient”. This means that your body requires a significant supply of protein.

However in many cases protein comes along with other things that aren’t so good for you. Often protein comes along with saturated fat.

But fish has no saturated fat

It is well-known that red meat is a good source of protein, however red meat also supplies saturated fat in your diet. Whilst some fats, like the Omega 3 fats, are essential to good health we are all warned to avoid too much saturated fat.

Saturated fat clogs your arteries. The fat in fish is unsaturated.

Along with protein and Omega 3 fats there are lots of other good nutrients in fish. Micronutrients, or in other words nutrients we only require in small quantities, include iodine, calcium and phosphorus and vitamins include both vitamin A and vitamin D.

And best of all, fish does not contain any carbohydrates, and is low in calories. Not only that but it’s easy to digest.

As you can see there’s plenty of nutrients in fish, and very little downside to eating it. Except for one thing.

Unfortunately fish can be contaminated with various toxins including Mercury and PCBs. This presents us all with a bit of a conundrum. Fish is an excellent food, both for its Omega 3 fatty acids as well as for all the other reasons outlined above. But should we be eating it?

Isn’t fish contaminated with mercury and PCBs?

Whilst the FDA warns us, if we are a pregnant woman, that we should eat little or no fish, and only certain types if we do, they do not tell the rest of us to avoid fish entirely. The American Heart Association recommends 2 meals of fish a week for good health, because of the nutrients in fish and in particular the Omega 3 fatty acids.

So whilst we need to be careful there is no strong evidence that we should all be avoiding eating any fish at all.

It would seem on balance that there are good reasons to eat 2 meals of fish per week, but not go overboard.

(And to get an adequate supply of Omega3 fatty acids take your fish oil capsules every day.)

Fish is healthy. Fish is nutritious, fish is good for you. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don’t eat too much fish, be careful with which fish you eat, but certainly make fish a part of your diet.

And surprisingly, how you cook your fish has some bearing on the level of toxins. Many toxins tend to accumulate in the fat of the fish and so you should serve your fish without the skin, cooked without any internal organs, with as much of the fat removed as possible.

And don’t fry it, frying tends to seal the fat in. As well as that frying tends to reduce the levels of Omega 3 fatty acids.

For more information on levels of mercury in different types of fish click here, and to read the specific FDA warnings on eating fish and shellfish for pregnant women click here.

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