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Put fish on your dish--carefully.

Although the American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week to lower your risk of heart disease, and many studies have shown the correlation between fish and lower risk, the recommendation isn't non-controversial nor without some warnings. The cardiovascular health benefits of fish come primarily from omega-3-fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats known to reduce risk of coronary artery disease because they help to prevent the kind of clotting that causes stroke. These fatty acids also lower triglyceride levels, another cardiovascular risk factor, and are also associated with lower risk of some cancers, including prostate cancer.

So why isn't this an unconditional endorsement for fish? Because some of the fishes with the highest levels of omega-3-fatty acids also deliver a dose of toxic methylmercury, an unfortunate result of industrial pollution of ocean ecosystems. Chronic low-level exposure to mercury can cause neurological problems and cardiovascular problems in adults, as well as significant developmental problems for children and infants. Prenatal exposure can be particularly insidious.

You can have your fish and eat it too, but with caution. Most of the fish available at your local market have significant omega-3-fatty acids. Only a few contain dangerous levels of mercury. Avoid or limit shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tile-fish. Tuna has lower, but still significant, levels of mercury and should be limited especially for children and pregnant women.

Fish is an important part of a safe and heart healthy lifestyle that prevents or controls high blood pressure. Also include exercise, weight control, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low fat dairy, and moderate alcohol consumption (if you drink).

(Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2001, Vol. 50., No. 8, pp. 140-143; Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001, Vol. 285,, No. 3 pp. 304-312; Prostate, 2001, Vol. 47, No. 4, pp. 262-268; Current Atherosclerosis Reports, 2001, Vol. 3, No. 4, pp. 321-327)
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Publication:Running & FitNews
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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