Mercury, fish and heart health - Oceana USA
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February 15, 2005

Mercury, fish and heart health

BY: Dawn

I am am generally concerned about healthy eating and am also a woman of childbearing age (not that I plan on having children any time soon). February is Heart Health month and I know that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are healthy for my heart. So I went to the American Heart Association’s (AHA’s) Web site to see what they had to say about healthy eating.

According to the AHA, I should be eating fatty fish at least twice a week. And they helpfully list fatty fish like albacore tuna and mackerel among its list of recommended fish.

BUT WAIT! If I followed the AHA’s advice, I would be consuming dangerous amounts of mercury.The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency specifically recommend in their consumer advisory that I should limit my intake of all fish to two meals a week, and that if I eat albacore tuna, I should only eat one meal of it a week. The AHA recommendation completely omits this advice found in the government’s consumer advisory, as well as the warning that women of childbearing age and children should not eat swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish or shark at all.

In fact, some fish have so much mercury, that CBS recently reported on a Finnish study (published oddly enough in an AHA journal) that showed that eating fish with high levels of mercury can counteract the benefits, and in some cases, actually increase the risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

The public has the right to know the full story. We should know how best to protect our hearts, which includes knowing which fish to avoid because of high levels of mercury and how much fish we should really be eating. Take action! Talk to your grocer about informing the public of the FDA/EPA consumer advisory.