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Fishy advice

July 15th, 2015

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Fishy advice

The middle path means not inclining toward any extreme. Everything should be done in moderation. That’s the Buddhist way.

Health-conscious people often eat fish. Some eat fish every day in every meal. However, due to the radiation scare and water contamination reports, people start to doubt whether fish is safe, and some even give up eating fish altogether. Both cases are an example of going extreme.

Heath organizations say that fish is good for the heart. A study done by Harvard University said that eating fish regularly can help reduce heart disease death by 36%, better than many medicines in the market. However, this does not mean you should throw your heart medicine in the trash can and go for fish.

It is not immediately obvious why fish can help the heart. Fish has more good fat than red meat, and it has a lot of omega-3 fatty acid which can help reduce heart rate irregularities, blood clotting and inflammation at the artery wall. It can also decrease triglyceride level. It is recommended to include fish into at least two meals a week.

Omega-3 fatty acid in fish is not only good for the heart but also beneficial for the brain, especially in infants and young children. It has also been proved to help with memories and emotions in older people. Joint pains in rheumatoid patients can also be alleviated by this fatty acid because of its anti-inflammatory property.

News that reported about fish contamination has been around even before the nuclear scare. Fish can contain mercury and other toxins, due to industrial wastewater. When small fish eats some bacteria in the water, it accumulates the toxins. When the bigger fish eats the small fish, the toxins get transferred to the big fish. Eventually they end up in our body. The older the fish, the more toxins they tend to have.

Mercury, even in small amount, can damage the nervous system in fetus and infants. If they get too much mercury, their brain and eyes can be damaged. Even adults can be seriously harmed by too much mercury.

Each fish can have a different level of mercury. In the US, little children, pregnant women and nursing mothers are advised to avoid tilefish and king mackerel because they are high in mercury.

Farmed fish and natural fish also have different levels of mercury. Farmed fish has more mercury due to the nature of its habitation. Canned fish is usually made from naturally found small fish, while fish in restaurants usually comes from fish farms.

Apart from mercury, PCB, DDT and dioxin can also be found in fish. They are accumulated in the fish’s fat layers and liver. Fresh water fish has more of these toxins than sea water fish.

As for fish oil, it is not as good as real fish, because real fish also contains other nutrients. However, oil fish in the market is not reported to be contaminated with toxins. Still, too much fish oil may be just as unhealthy as too much fish.

My advice regarding fish consumption is to eat moderately. Choose short-lived fish such as sardines and herrings. If possible, eat fishes that come from nature, not farmed fish. Ironically, canned fish comes from nature and natural looking fish comes from fish farms. Try not to eat the fat layers and the skin, as these are where toxins are accumulated.

A patient of mine was obese and her triglyceride level was high. I told her to change her diet to fish and white meat (such as chicken, without skin). Three months later, she came back even heavier with higher triglyceride level. She told me she had breaded deep-fried fish and chicken every meal, every day!

Prof Nithi Mahanonda is consultant cardiologist and interventionist, Perfect Heart Institute.

บทความที่เกี่ยวข้อง

ยาหัวใจ (ตอน 2)
ความอ้วนกับโรคหัวใจ
ความจำสำคัญไฉน
กินปลาดีจริงหรือ
โสม
Senior Care


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