“Eat seafood twice a week!” This standard advice was outlined in the federal government’s dietary guidelines set out for all adults that inhabit the United States. But is it really advice to live by?
Fish has the ability to guard against heart disease and cardiovascular ailments, enhance brain function, stimulate hair and nail growth, as well as increase the health of your skin and eyes. So, consuming seafood as much as possible is a good thing to keep yourself in good working order.
However, according to recent studies performed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), simply telling consumers to eat seafood twice a week is misleading and is actually harmful to the health of us all as individuals. That’s because this statement is far too vague and doesn’t tell anyone just what type of seafood to consume to get the most overall health benefits.
Studies on the average levels of omega-3s in the 35 most consumed types of seafood species, have shown that only two of these 35 actually give the body adequate levels of omega 3s (roughly 1,800 milligrams). These two rare types are salmon and tuna.
The country’s most popular seafood, shrimp, is actually so low in the healthy fatty acid omega 3, that it would actually require the consumption of close to seven pounds each week, to get the daily recommended amount set by these dietary guidelines. Even when eating eight ounces a week, which only seems semi-reasonable if you really like fish, reaching your limit of omega 3s would only be possible with 14 of the seafood types on the list of 35. Even the ever-popular canned tuna would need to be eaten at a rate of 20 ounces a week!
So, to say that the guidelines are a little skewed, would be an understatement. Luckily, the foods we consume outside of seafood also pack a large amount of omega 3s and other healthy fatty acids. But, this does not excuse the fact that the rules and regulations that are set forth for us, are off and need to be changed.
With a high level of omega-3 fatty acid, usually also comes an even higher level of mercury. So, if you’re trying to go above and beyond the guidelines being set, you could actually be putting yourself at jeopardy for major illnesses. Mercury causes alarming effects in your body, including the stunting of a developing brain, as well as the instance of some cancers and cardiovascular disease. Mercury is known to interfere with the body’s natural process and response to stress; when the body is overly stressed, the immune system weakens.
So if you’re unsure as to what types of fish you can eat, the ones typically low in mercury but high in healthy omega 3s, are as follows: trout, sardines, herring, mussels and shad.