Health studies have established that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can improve heart and overall health. Our bodies require omega-3 fatty acids but we cannot produce them so we must get them from food sources. Omega-3s from plant sources are found in flax and walnuts, but omega-3s from fish have been shown to provide better health benefits.
Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of protein and are generally lower in fat and calories than red meat and poultry. In addition fish and seafood are good sources of iron, zinc, vitamin B12. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least two times (two servings) a week. A serving is 3.5 ounces cooked or ¾ cup flaked fish.
There has been concern regarding the amount of mercury in fish. According to The American Medical Association mercury exposure from fish should not be a concern for men and women not of childbearing age, especially if eating a variety of different seafood. Pregnant and nursing women and young children should avoid shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and golden bass due to their higher mercury content. Light tuna has lower levels of mercury than albacore. Wild and farmed salmon and shrimp contain very low levels of mercury. More information about mercury in fish can be found at www.epa.gov/ost/fish/
Vicki Bovee, MS, RDN, LD