Fish is an excellent source of lean, low-calorie protein and often recommended as a great addition to any healthy diet. It’s packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, which help with heart health, aid brain function, decrease risks of depression and help with arthritis.
A recent study even showed omega-3s can help prevent prostate cancer. The problem with fish, though, is – you guessed it – the mercury from ocean contamination. So is fish good for us, or bad for us?
Too much mercury can cause a lot of neurological problems. Symptoms include headaches, neuromuscular effects, memory loss, tremors, insomnia, memory loss and cognitive and motor dysfunction.
Mercury is unavoidable when eating any kind of fish, but luckily there are a few ways to reduce the amount of mercury consumed. It’s really about watching what type of fish you eat.
Different types of fish have different levels of mercury. Typically, the longer the fish lives and the higher up the food chain it is, the more mercury it will have in its system.
The fish to avoid, particularly for children and pregnant women, are swordfish, shark, king mackerel and Gulf tilefish. The fish with lower levels of mercury are shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod. Unfortunately, low levels of mercury still means you’re ingesting a deadly toxin every time you consume fish.
There are a few ways to counteract the mercury in your body, while still getting those amazingly healthy omega-3s. One of those is selenium.
Selenium, which can be found in tuna, beef, cod, turkey and chicken, binds with the mercury in the system. Selenium may help prevent some of the damage caused by mercury in the body.
Don’t want to consume a lot of other meats? A study done in the Brazilian Amazon showed that eating tropical fruit may counteract some of the negative effects of consumed mercury.
Chlorella, a fresh water algae, is said to be able to help the body expel mercury. It’s also been touted as a super supplement with a ton of health benefits.
Fish isn’t the only way to get too much mercury in your system. Dental fillings, specifically silver fillings can contain mercury.
Over time mercury can seep out from these fillings and invade your bloodstream. Check with your dentist to see about getting these fillings replaced with mercury-free ones if they aren’t in the best condition.
While fish has its downside, there are plenty of benefits. As usual, the best advice is to eat a well-balanced diet and throw in some high-quality supplements like chlorella and selenium.