Wild caught fish are a great source of omega fatty acids.  Essential fatty acids must be taken in through the diet because our body is not capable of making them.  The most important omega-3 fatty acid to include in the diet is ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid), both EPA(eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) can be made in the body (Eating them within the diet is still recommended to ensure proper amounts within the body).

ALA is essential for energy production in the body, increasing glutathione creation, and increases insulin sensitivity. The immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems are not able to properly function without adequate amount of EPA and DHA.  EPA and DHA are important for brain function and cognition.  DHA accounts for 9-12% of the total weigh of the brain.  In addition, these fats are essential for anti-inflammatory responses within the body.  Sea food has the largest concentration of DHA and EPA.

The potential problem with sea food is the risk of toxicity and contamination within the fish meat.  With our oceans and water becoming more polluted, humans run the risk of eating toxins within the fish.  Even the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) recommend decreasing the amount of fish that pregnant women and young children eat to avoid heavy metal toxins. According to the most updated “Consumer Guide to Seafood” by the EWG (Environmental Working Group), the list below is safe seafood to buy and eat.

  • Wild Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Mussels
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Anchovies
  • Polluck
  • Herring
  • Shrimp
  • Catfish
  • Tilapia
  • Clams
  • Scallops

Fish to Avoid Due to Higher Mercury Content:

  • Canned Light/ Albacore Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Lobster
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Sea Bass
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • King Mackerel
  • Marlin
  • Bluefin and Bigeye Tuna (Steaks and Sushi)
  • Orange Roughy

Other Quick Tips when buying fish:

  1. Buy fish from a reputable source. A fish market, butcher shop, or natural food store are all good locations.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask the store questions about where the fish were caught, how it was transported, and how long it has been in the store?
  3. Examine the fish. Fish should not smell fishy if it is fresh. As it begins to grow bacteria, it begins to smell.  The scales of the fish should be shiny and translucent.  When picking filets, do not pick filets that are discolored, flaky, or slimy.  All of these are signs that the fish is not fresh.
  4. Ask to have your fish wrapped in butcher paper instead of set on Styrofoam and wrapped in plastic wrap. Styrofoam  has styrene in it which the EPA and the IARC (International Agency For Research on Cancer) have both listed styrene has a potential carcinogen (cancer causing chemical).   This chemicals and others can seep into the fish when it is placed on the Styrofoam.  Although plastic wrap does not contain BPA or phthalates, it does have DEHA di(2-ethylhexyl) adipate which has shown to cause liver tumors in mice.

By eating fish with low toxic exposure and following the tips listed above, there will be a decreased risk of toxic exposure and increase the health.

Works Cited.

Chauhan, Kiren and Brandel France de Bravo, MPH. “Plastic Wrap and Plastic Food Containers: Are They Safe?” NCHC: National Center for Health Research. National Center for Health Research.  March 2011. Web. 22 November 2014. http://center4research.org/healthy-living-prevention/products-with-health-risks/plastic-wrap-and-plastic-food-containers-are-they-safe/

Environmental Working Group. “EWG’s Consumer Guide to Seafood: Executive Summary.” EWG: The Environmental Working Group. The Environmental Working Group. 18 September 2014. Web. 22 November 2014. http://www.ewg.org/research/ewgs-good-seafood-guide/executive-summary

Fitzgerald, Patricia. PhD. “The Detox Solution.” Santa Barbara. Illumination Press, 2001. Print.

Frazier, Karen. “How Styrofoam is bad for the environment.” Love to know green living: advice you can trust. Love to know green living. 2014. Web. 22 November 2014. http://greenliving.lovetoknow.com/How_Styrofoam_is_Bad_for_the_Environment

The George Mateljan Foundation. “Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” the world’s healthiest foods. The George Mateljan Foundation. 2014. Web. 22 November 2014. http://whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=84

Ortiz, Jula. “FDA and EPA issue updated draft advice for fish consumption / Advice encourages pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to eat more fish that are lower in mercury.” EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental Protection Agency. 09 June 2014. Web. 22 November 2014. http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/596e17d7cac720848525781f0043629e/b8edc480d8cfe29b85257cf20065f826!OpenDocument