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Can Losing Weight With Fish Hurt Your Health?

8/17 10:38:52
We've all heard that eating lots of fish is a healthy way to lose weight.

They're low in calories and saturated fat. They're an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. And most importantly, they contain omega-3 fatty acids which can reduce the risk of heart disease.

Of course, some fish -- like herring, mackerel, and salmon -- contain more omega-3 fatty acids than others -- like flounder, halibut, and trout.

So losing weight with fish, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids, is a no-brainer, right?


***There's Something Else You Should Know***

A serious concern with fish is the polluted water they swim in. They can become contaminated with mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

So when you eat fish to lose weight, these dangerous substances can be passed to you. At high levels, mercury can cause heart, autoimmune, and nervous system problems.

PCBs can cause cancer.

But not all fish have the same levels of mercury and PCBs. That's because smaller fish don't accumulate as many environmental poisons as larger fish.

And wild fish accumulate less than farmed fish.

So exactly which fish are safe in your diet and how much can you eat?

You should talk to your doctor for the latest information.

But I also use an interesting tool, the "Mercury Calculator," from the National Resources Defense Council at www.nrdc.org/health/effects/mercury/index.asp

**Here's How It Works**

On the nrdc.org website, click the calculator icon marked "Mercury Calculator" near the bottom of the page on the left side.

Then type in your weight and check off the kinds of fish you ate the prior week. (I like to use it before I eat seafood or fish. That way, I can avoid potentially harmful levels of mercury.)

For each type of fish or seafood, choose the number of portions you ate and whether they were small, medium or large.

Then the calculator estimates your average daily mercury dose and tells you if you're within the EPA "Safety Zone."

Naturally, it's only an estimate. Your actual intake of mercury will vary.

If you want a more accurate reading, you can ask your doctor about giving you a blood mercury test.

But if you eat fish or seafood on a regular basis, the "Mercury Calculator" may give you a way of knowing if you're putting your health at risk.

**Which Are The Safest Types Of Fish To Eat When Losing Weight?**

According to the nrdc.org website, you should avoid eating fish with the highest levels of mercury such as shark, swordfish, and orange roughy.

The site also lists those fish high or moderate in mercury and gives you a recommendation on how many servings to eat per month.

For example, grouper is high in mercury. The website recommends eating three servings or less per month.

Finally, there is a group of fish with the least amount of mercury. I didn't see any warnings on limiting consumption of most of those types of fish.

For example, pollock, trout and whitefish didn't have any warnings as far as I could see. But you may want to recheck just to be sure.

**So Is It Healthy To Eat Fish While Losing Weight?**

It seems like the answer is a qualified yes. Just make sure you know the risks.

And above all, consult your doctor if you have any questions or health concerns about losing weight with fish.

Important Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes only. It's not medical advice and it's not a substitute for any advice or treatment from your physician. Always see your physician before starting any new diet plan.

Copyright (c) 2007 Debbie Fontana
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