With so many benefits linked with eating seafood, why are people missing out on this opportunity for better health?
"The nutritional benefits are overshadowed by fear of environmental contaminants, including methylmercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) potentially found in seafood sources, and confusion about sustainability," said Sylvia Geiger, registered dietitian specializing in seafood and health.
But a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Harvard researchers provided a poignant example quantifying the potential health benefits vs. risks for consuming seafood: The study projected if 100,000 people ate farmed or wild salmon twice per week for 70 years, nearly 7,100 lives might be saved as a result of cardiovascular disease protection.
At the same time, only 24 deaths might result due to exposure to potential contaminants. The researchers concluded it is far riskier to forgo the healthful nutrients derived from eating seafood than it is to avoid seafood due to fear of contaminants.
If your body has sufficient selenium to maintain proper function, the risks for mercury are mitigated, according to the Energy and Environmental Research Center, Grand Forks, N.D. Seafood is among 17 of the top 25 sources of dietary selenium consumed in the U.S.; thus, people who maintain optimal intake levels of selenium may reduce their risk of mercury exposure.
Tribune Media Services