© 2020 American Medical Association. Fish and other seafood are the major sources of healthful long-chain omega-3 fats and are also rich in other nutrients such as vitamin D and selenium, high in protein, and low in saturated fat. Scientific data indicate that the consumption of fish or fish oil containing omega-3 PUFAs reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, decreases mild hypertension, and … But risks fall most heavily on a small minority of the population, those who have the highest mercury exposure because they often eat higher-mercury fish. Many are available in English and Spanish. Most of the nutrients in fish can also be obtained from non-fish (plant) sources. For pregnant women, mothers who are breastfeeding, and women of childbearing age, fish intake is important because it supplies DHA, a specific omega-3 fatty acid that is beneficial for the brain development of infants. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from fish may enhance fetal neurodevelopment, while methylmercury (MeHg) can have detrimental effects. Chemicals called dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can accumulate in foods, including fish. Leave it to the pros. Enhanced growth rate, sterility and disease resistance abut questions of escapes and welfare Conventional selective breeding has resulted in substantial … Fish and shellfish varieties vary by more than 100-fold in mercury levels, and also vary in their content of specific beneficial nutrients. Get free access to newly published articles. Monday, 1 September 2008 Dr. Raul W. Ponzoni Dr. Nguyen Hong Nguyen. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Information Line 888/SAFE-FOODhttp://www.fda.gov, American Heart Association http://www.americanheart.org, American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org. A recent medical study and government report on this subject make this a good time to address these concerns.In a 2006 study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers looked at both the risks and benefits of fish consumption. Several low-mercury fish, including salmon, herring, tilapia, anchovies and sardines, are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish nutrients essential for brain development. Fish farming exists to address a fundamental problem: The demand for fish grows as the human population grows, and the number of fish available in the wild isn't keeping pace. Pregnant women's fish consumption provides both benefits and risks to the developing fetus. And is going to submit the results to the World Health Organization. That’s far from clear. One of the big advantages of fish farming is that it's a fine entrepreneurial opportunity. Compared with the health benefits of fish intake, the health risks of these chemical levels are very low and should not influence individual decisions about fish intake. Updated: Apr 25, 2017, 14:40 IST. But it’s becoming clearer that the risks associated with farmed fish are higher than concerns about wild fish. Limiting alcohol to no more than one drink a day for women or two for men. All of these play an important role in … Transgenic fish: Risks and benefits. Salmon Benefits and Risks. Eating fish reduces the risk of death from heart disease, the leading cause of death in both men and women. A Patient Page on a healthy diet was published in the April 26, 2000, issue. Fish is a very important part of a healthy diet. Taking fish oil supplements for at least six months has been shown to reduce the risk of heart-related events (such as heart attack) and death in people who are at high risk of heart disease. Privacy Policy| This article will discuss the benefits and risks of eating cod. Share on Pinterest Cod is naturally high in protein. There is wisdom in the logic that everything should be taken in moderation. Tips for safely savouring sushi. To find this and previous JAMA Patient Pages, go to the Patient Page Index on JAMA's Web site at http://www.jama.com. Fable: The benefits of eating fish far outweigh the minuscule risks from mercury. Summary: Tilapia contains much less omega-3 than other fish like salmon. If you want to get the many health benefits fish … These important issues are outside the scope of this discussion of mercury in fish, but to read more about them, visit the Got Mercury web site. Tuna fish is loaded with antioxidants that protect the body against cancer-causing free radicals. Other fish should still be consumed to ensure that infants receive the benefits of DHA for brain development. The authors conclude that, based on the evidence, the benefits of eating one to two servings of fish a week greatly outweigh the risks among adults and, except for a few species of fish… Eating fish reduces the risk of death from heart disease, the leading cause of death in both men and women. Recommendations from medical experts and researchers suggest that the potential benefits of fish or fish oil consumption far outweigh the risks of some mercury consumption, as long as mercury consumption remains at low levels. However, fish may also contain mercury and other contaminants that may have risks for health. A: Fish is the only food that directly supplies large amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to cut the risk of heart attack and stroke. But some fish can also contain toxic contaminants, like methylmercury, which pose well documented risks to public health. Fish, including cod, is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. These studies also showed beneficial effects for brain development of higher fish consumption, reinforcing the need for pregnant women to choose low-mercury fish. The key words used were: fish, food intake, omega-3 fatty acids, fatty fish, benefits, risk, and consumption. Anyone who eats fish probably gets some cardiovascular benefit, and brain development seems to benefit from maternal consumption of fish of any type. All Rights Reserved, Challenges in Clinical Electrocardiography, Clinical Implications of Basic Neuroscience, Health Care Economics, Insurance, Payment, Scientific Discovery and the Future of Medicine, United States Preventive Services Task Force, 2006;296(15):1926. doi:10.1001/jama.296.15.1926. See our listing of fish and shellfish by mercury levels. lower triglyceride levels. High-fish diets are associated with lower risk of death from heart attack and stroke, and nutrients in fish are critical for prenatal and childhood brain development (Grandma was right; fish really is “brain food.”). Fish is very nutritious, providing a lean source of protein, omega-3 essential fatty acids and a variety of vitamins and minerals to the diet. Women of childbearing age should eat fish, but should also be particularly aware of mercury risks and choose low-mercury fish. While two-thirds of the fish and shellfish Americans eat each year are low in mercury, several popular seafood varieties have well-above-average levels, and some are very high in mercury. Fish oils contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D.; Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils may protect the heart and offer other health benefits, but research results have been mixed. to download free article PDFs, All Rights Reserved. Studies show benefits with 3-4 sessions per week, each lasting 40 minutes, ... fish, and chicken. Anyone who eats fish probably gets some cardiovascular benefit, and brain development seems to benefit from maternal consumption of fish of any type. The October 18, 2006, issue of JAMA includes an article about the health benefits and risks of eating fish. Sources: Food and Drug Administration, American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association. The PCBs come from the fish meal and fish oil the salmon are fed. Many efforts have been made to inform the public on these issues, and more are needed. Based on strength of evidence and potential magnitudes of effect, the benefits of modest fish consumption (1-2 servings/wk) outweigh the risks among adults and, excepting a few selected fish species, among women of childbearing age. Comparing the size of risks and benefits, for individuals or for the public as a whole, does not make much scientific sense, because the benefits and risks fall on different people. (More than 80% of the fresh salmon eaten in the U.S. is farmed.) By - TNN. Terms of Use| Seafood: Weighing the Benefits and Risks. According to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), the benefits of eating fish outweigh the health risks. This page may be photocopied noncommercially by physicians and other health care professionals to share with patients. Comparing the size of risks and benefits, for individuals or for the public as a whole, does not make much scientific sense, because the benefits and risks fall on different people. Heart disease. Fish or fish oil contains omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that appear to play several useful roles for human health. In recent decades, one of the biggest concerns about fish has been … Fable: Pregnant women should eat lots of fish, because the benefits to their babies’ brains will far outweigh any risks from mercury. So, mercury exposure from fish intake should not be a major concern for men or for women not of childbearing age. Fish are an important part of a healthy, well-balanced diet. Benefits and risks of eating fish. Among the conclusions reached by the SACN/COT regarding those benefits and risks associated with increased consumption of seafood and fish oils were that: Therefore, pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, those who are breastfeeding, and very young children should avoid 4 types of fish that are higher in mercury content: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and golden bass. Assessments of contaminants in salmon (1–4) have raised health risk concerns, which are particularly important given the considerable increasing trend in salmon consumption, especially of farmed salmon (5). Are Mercury Warnings Bad for Public Health? Overall, the health benefits of eating fish greatly outweigh the potential risks—especially when guidelines are used to reduce the small chance of being affected by these risks. In contrast, fish intake has significant benefits for reducing the risk of death from heart disease, the number one cause of death. All fish are definitely not alike. More research is needed to determine the benefits and risks of daily aspirin use in adults younger than age 50 and older than age 70 before a recommendation can be made for or against aspirin use to prevent cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer for these age groups. The evidence with respect to risks and benefits for prenatal brain development suggests strongly that methylmercury damage to the developing brain is greater than the benefit provided by fish nutrients. (See “Who should be concerned?”). Mercury may have subtle effects on the developing nervous systems of infants. Risks. On the second point, risk/benefit trade-offs are not inevitable at all. Hence, the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) conducted a study to evaluate the risks and the benefits of fish soup consumption on a limited scale. Mercury damage to prenatal brain development has been documented in epidemiological studies of populations with high-fish diets, in the Faeroe Islands and in New Zealand. All Rights Reserved. The foods we eat influence our health. Eating fish is good for health; that’s a main reason why Americans’ per capita fish and shellfish consumption has been steadily rising. The benefits of fish intake can be maximized by consuming a variety of different seafood. 8 Little-Known Side Effects of Too Much Fish Oil Fish oil is well known for its wealth of health-promoting properties. Some fish contain mercury. Compared with store-bought fish, locally caught freshwater fish may have higher chemical levels, so local advisories should be consulted. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish—especially oily fish such as salmon, sardines, and herring. Sushi chefs, or itamae (ita-meh-ee), are highly trained to handle uncooked fish. The JAMA Patient Page is a public service of JAMA. The proposition that moderate benefits to everyone make substantial risks to a small minority acceptable is ethically debatable, at best. Give us your email and we'll keep you up to date on Mercury Facts and Fish! Information on the mercury content of popular fish and shellfish varieties is widely available, for instance on the US FDA’s food safety web site, but doesn’t reach most consumers. 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