How eating fish can improve your diet


Are you confused about whether or not to eat fish?

Eating fish regularly is part of a healthy diet. In fact, Canada's Food Guide to Healthy Eating recommends at least two servings of fish per week.

Current research shows more benefits of fish consumption than drawbacks. However, it is now clear that consumption should consist mainly of fish lower in Methylmercury (MeHg) concentrations and higher in omega-3 concentrations (the healthy fats found in fish).

Best Bets

Fish that contain lower MeHg levels include mackerel, salmon, herring, sardines, oysters, shrimp, Pollock, catfish, scallops, tilapia, sole, arctic char, cod, "light" tuna (skipjack), yellow fin tuna, snapper and haddock.

Buyer Beware

Fish HIGHER in MeHg that should be avoided in large amounts include fish that live longer life spans and larger fish. Fresh or frozen tuna from albacore or blue fin, and other large fish such as shark, marlin and swordfish have higher concentrations of MeHg.

What's the Beef about MeHg?

MeHg concentrations in the environment are rising. Once it is in the fish, upon consumption, humans will absorb about 95 per cent of MeHg. MeHg is a neurotoxin found in both salt and freshwater fish in varying amounts. It is water-soluble and is stored in the muscle of the fish; so eating low fat varieties does not reduce consumption of MeHg.

MeHg affects both human central and peripheral nervous systems and particularly affects the developing brain in a fetus and in young children. Toxic amounts may also cause damage to the cardiovascular system. Eating fish in moderation and the type of fish consumed are important elements in a healthy diet.

For an individual nutrition appointment call the Health Centre (SU 020) at 403-329-2484. Hour-long sessions are $40 for U of L students and employees. Diane Britton is the registered dietitian for the University of Lethbridge. This is her final column as she has accepted a position with Alberta Health Services.

This column first appeared in the Legend. To view the Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.