Mercury occurs naturally in the environment but it’s also an industrial pollutant. Once mercury is released into the water, fish absorb it. Larger, longer-living predatory fish such as, swordfish, shark, and many types of tuna end up with the most mercury. Cooking fish does not affect its mercury content.
• Eating high-mercury fish regularly can result in its build- up in the body and health problems such as birth defects in newborns, learning disabilities in children and, diabetes in adults.
• Higher intakes of omega-3 fats and magnesium, a mineral found in fish as well as legumes, nuts, seeds, wheat bran andspinachreducessome of the harm from mercury.
• High mercury exposure leads to elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. Some types of seafood can damage pancreatic cells that secrete insulinand bloodsugar goes out of control.
The question is - Should you stop eating fish?
No, definitely not. Eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, and sardines may help reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and macular degeneration - an eye disease.
• However, women of childbearing age and young children should limit intake of high-mercury fish and seafood.
• Fish high in mercury include tuna (albacore, big eye, black fin, and blue fin), king mackerel, shark, swordfish, marlin; and canned albacore (white) tuna . Canned light tuna, usually skipjack tuna, is lower in mercury.
• Some low mercury fish such as trout, catfish, crab, wild salmon, haddock, sardine, herring, shrimp are quite safe and healthy for everyone.
• Portion size should not exceed 300gmrs per week.
• Limiting exposure to mercury, losing excess weight, preventing abdominal weight gain, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet that minimizes (or avoids) refined starches and added sugars are all important strategies to reduce the risk of diabetes.
A healthy diet includes fish consumption, but if you eat a lot of high mercury level fish, you are more likely to have increased mercury levels.
You can’t control your age. You can’t control your genes. You can’t control your race, but you do have the power to control your diet and physical activity.