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What to Know About Omega-3s and Fish

Experts explain which fish are best for omega-3s, and which you should limit due to mercury.
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Omega-3 Fatty Acids as Brain Food continued...

Investigators at the University of Kuopia, Finland, and at Harvard Medical School looked at the incidence of silent brain damage in about 3,500 people age 65 or older. Eating tuna or other non-fried fish was associated with a 25% lower risk of these abnormalities, which are linked to higher rates of stroke and cognitive decline.

While omega-3 fatty acids have a number of benefits, these studies do not prove a cause and effect, only that there is an association between eating fatty acids in fish and the risks of Alzheimer's disease or the risks of dementia.

Cancer Prevention With Omega-3s

Among 1,300 Swedish men, those who ate salmon and similar fish, such as herring or mackerel, had a much lower risk of developing prostate cancer than those who didn't eat fish. Those eating five or more servings a week had a 64% lower risk of the disease.

Omega-3s for Healthier Arteries

Following postmenopausal women in Finland and the United States, investigators found that those eating two or more servings of fish each week had healthier arteries than women who ate less than two servings. Benefits were even greater in those eating tuna or another type of dark fish at least once a week.

To Fish or not to Fish: Weighing the Benefits and Risks

Mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are common toxins in seafood. Although the U.S. banned the use of PCBs and DDT in 1976, these and other chemicals are still used in half the world's commercial chemical processes. Substances like these can hang around in the air, soil, and water for many years. They end up in the bodies of fish and animals.

The higher on the food chain, the greater the accumulation of toxins. Fish that eat plants are less contaminated than those that eat other fish. That's why it's better, in general, to eat smaller fish lower on the food chain or smaller portions of fish that may be contaminated.

The FDA released an advisory about fish. The alert wasn't meant for everyone. It was directed at women who were planning to become pregnant, were already pregnant, or were nursing a young child. For this group of people, the FDA advised against eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish -- which contain high levels of mercury.

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