Tag Archives: fish

Something Fishy about Some “Common Knowledge”

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for 2011? If you did, you likely made at least one involving what you eat. Maybe you decided to go on a weight-loss diet. Maybe you decided to cut back on your intake of less-than-healthy foods or drinks. Or maybe you just decided to eat better: more vegetables and fruit, less meat, more whole grains…

But one oft-recommended dietary improvement presents a problem: eating more fish. Without a doubt, fish is an excellent food, particularly because it is so rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have positive effects on heart and immune health, as well as anti-inflammatory effects. But some kinds of seafood are also rich in something that has no business being in your body: mercury. So the question becomes: Do the nutritional benefits of fish outweigh the risks of ingesting mercury?

The common refrain is, “Yes, they do,” but seldom do you hear any evidence to back the claim. Rather, the benefits are touted and the risks are downplayed, sidestepping the fact that mercury – a potent neurotoxin – is not something a person should be taking into their body at all. It is a poison. It’s why, as a dentist, I refuse to place mercury amalgam fillings, and why a good amount of my practice involves removing amalgam and helping people heal from the ravages of mercury poisoning.

The common refrain also rests on a fallacy: It presumes that all kinds of seafood are alike in their mercury content. This simply isn’t true. While many fish and shellfish are fairly low in mercury, some – such as albacore tuna, tuna steaks and halibut – contain quite a lot of it.

Ideally, then, you want to avoid the kinds of fish that tend to be high in mercury and opt for those that are low.

To this end, the Mercury Policy Project – a nonprofit group working to eliminate the use of mercury in dentistry and other fields – has put together a helpful guide to low-mercury fish (PDF; a guide listing higher mercury seafood, as well, is available here). Print it out and keep with you for reference when you shop or go out to eat. Safest options include shrimp, tilapia, salmon and freshwater trout. “Below average” options include pollock, sole, catfish and squid.

To learn more about the facts about mercury contaminated fish, check out the MPP’s dedicated site, Mercury and Fish: The Facts.

Image by palestrina55, via Flickr

 

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Filed under Diet & Nutrition, Mercury

Stopping Gum Disease Naturally – New Study Shows Key Role for Fatty Acids from Fish, Nuts

A diet full of fish and nuts – foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) – goes a long way to keeping people’s smiles healthy, according to a new study.

Looking at the diets of 182 adults, researchers found that those who consumed the highest amount of n-3 fatty acids were 30% less likely to develop gum disease and 20% less likely to develop periodontitis (severe gum disease).

Lead author Dr Asghar Z. Naqvi of Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center says, “We found that n-3 fatty acid intake, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are inversely associated with periodontitis in the US population.

“To date, the treatment of periodontitis has primarily involved mechanical cleaning and local antibiotic application. A dietary therapy, if effective, might be a less expensive and safer method for the prevention and treatment of periodontitis.”

Commenting on the study, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said, “Most people suffer from gum disease at some point in their life. What people tend not to realize is that it can actually lead to tooth loss if left untreated, and in this day and age, most people should be able to keep all their teeth for life.

“This study shows that a small and relatively easy change in people’s diet can massively improve the condition of their teeth and gums, which in turn can improve their overall well being.”

The study was published in the November issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

“n-3 Fatty Acids and Periodontitis in US Adults” (Abstract)

Adapted from a British Dental Health Foundation media release.

Images by cobalt123 and s58y via Flickr

 

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Filed under Diet & Nutrition, Periodontal health