It’s no news flash that eating fish is good for your heart, thanks to those omega-3 fatty acids. But could the risks of environmental pollutants—especially mercury—cancel out that benefit?
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers were curious about how those two risks played out—and what the magical mean might be. In the end, they confirmed that fish-eaters run a lower risk of heart attack, but the balance between those helpful omega-3s and that harmful mercury was what really made the most difference.
So what does that mean for you—especially now that fish oil has been called into question? You should still eat fish two to three times a week, but keep this advice in mind.
- Stick with salmon. When it comes to fish that’s both highest in omega-3s and lowest in mercury, fresh salmon is up there. It’s pretty easy to prepare, so experiment in the kitchen and try to work it into your diet at dinner once a week.
- Branch out. You’re probably not eating too many sardines or anchovies, but guess what: Like salmon, they’re two of your best options. So top a healthy homemade pizza with some anchovies, or toss sardines into an easy Greek salad of leafy greens, tomato, cucumber, olives, and feta.
- Go easy on the tuna. Yes, we know. Canned tuna is a completely easy, so-cheap-it's-crazy source of protein. But it's also moderately high in mercury, so you should only have it about six times a month. What's a guy to do? Try subbing canned salmon once a week or so. It has much less mercury—and is an even more potent source of those crucial fatty acids.
- Avoid all mercury bombs. Sorry, but king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, filefish, and bigeye or ahi tuna are all on the big fat never list.