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The Killer on Your Plate

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With all the warnings about seafood safety, many fish lovers aren't happy. But where does the real truth lie regarding the safety of fish in our diets?


We've heard how bad mercury can be for us, but what really makes it so bad? It accumulates in waters where our ocean critters feed and can accumulate in our blood stream over time, possibly harming an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system. Even if you're not pregnant, it may take more than a year for mercury levels to drop, which is why women of child-bearing age need to be aware of this issue early on. Other adults can also suffer health effects from fish contaminants--but in most cases, they would have to be exposed to more of the contaminants than either children or fetuses.

So is fish good or bad for you? Celebrity nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin gets to the bottom of these different fish theories and lets us know once and for all what types of fish we should be feeding our families. The key is to keep servings in proportion and eat different kinds of seafood from meal to meal, JJ says. 

The Rules: 

Adults: A serving size is about 4 to 6 ounces

Children: 2 to 3 ounces (or one tuna fish sandwich)

1. The fish that are lowest in contaminants generally are small in size, low in fat, live in cold water and don't live on the bottom of waterways (like sardines and trout). 

2. Avoid large, predatory species (like shark and swordfish). Canned light tuna is better than canned white/albacore tuna and should not be eaten more than once a week.

3. Choose wild-caught instead of farmed for most species. Farming can have negative impacts on the environment and/or health. Farm-raised fish are often fed diets that are not indigenous to them, which negatively affects their fatty acid profile--and they may be treated with herbicides, fungicides and hormones, which can store in their fat.

4. Try not to eat the same fish or shellfish more than once a week.

If you follow these guidelines below, anyone can safely eat 2 to 3 servings of fish per week and gain tremendous health benefits for life!

next: Larry Birkhead: 'Dannielynn Smacks Me'
3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Nancy September 11, 2008, 2:26 PM

The killer on your plate? I just read a report in the Sept. issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition about a study done on thousands of women and children in Denmark. That study found that women who ate at least 3 servings of fish while pregnant and nursing had smarter, better coordinated children. Journalist like you are doing damage to the public health, because you are scaring women away from fish. Are the Japanese suffering from eating fish every day? Evidently not, because they live, on average, several years longer than Americans, and their health care costs are half of ours — and over half of them smoke cigarettes! What do you think women will eat that’s better for them than fish? Red meat and poultry shot full of hormones? Have you ever read some of the actual scientific studies, like the Seychelles Study, or the Avon Study in England, which show that eating more fish while pregnant is good for your baby? All the scare stories and mercury limits in the US were based on the Faeroe Island study, in which mercury and other contaminants were ingested by pregnant women in whale blubber, not in fish — women who were more likely to smoke and drink alcohol while pregnant as well. Then the FDA used this study to set mercury limits, and built in a 1000% safety factor, i.e if 10 parts of mercury per million may have been where a problem occurred with the women eating whale blubber (which no one eats here in any case), they set the limit at 1 part per million, just to be extra safe. The result is that poorly informed articles, such as your, scare people away from one of the healthiest things they can eat. You should be ashamed.

Fashion Design October 1, 2010, 4:45 AM

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Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 9:54 AM

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