Schools of Fish Are Making the Grade

Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids: salmon
and tuna; © Hemera

Having fallen out of favour due to past mercury warnings aimed at pregnant women, new data show that consumers are doing their bodies a disservice if they continue to avoid this food.

The known benefits of omega-3s are growing. They now include improved mental health and foetal infant development, and cancer-preventing anti-inflammatory effects, improved heart and vascular health, visual function, and respiratory function. Moreover, fresh studies from Harvard Medical School noted here suggest that increased intake of omega-3 helps sudden heart problems like heart-attacks, and also those with a longer onset time.

George Gray of the Harvard School of Public Health is about to release a study that explores the cost-benefit question of omega-3 fish and mercury.

His research team found that overall public health would decline if all consumers reduced their fish consumption by the same 17 percent that women did when the government released its report linking fatty fish to high mercury content. If consumers instead increased their same fish consumption by a whopping 50 percent there would be a marked increase in the collective life expectancy.

“Our results surprised us,” said Gray. “While the numbers themselves can vary, the end result - a net gain in public health when fish consumption goes up and a net loss when it goes down - is the same every time. No question,” he added.

Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, also of Harvard Medical School and who headed the heart attack study, added: “The critical point is that, even with mercury, we’re getting an enormous and invaluable benefit from omega-3. Of course, we’d get even more benefit by lowering the mercury content.”; Source: Institute of Food Technologists (IFT)