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  • Sorting Out Some Risks Of Fish

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    The foods we eat influence our health. Besides containing protein and other nutrients such as vitamin D and selenium, fish (either finfish or shellfish) contain a specific type of fat, omega-3 fatty acids, that may reduce the risk of developing heart disease and other medical problems. However, fish may also contain mercury and other contaminants that may have risks for health.

    Fish is often called “brain food.” It’s an excellent source of lean protein, rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, Bvitamins and iodine, and pregnant women are encouraged to eat it. There’s just one, ah, catch: Fish also may have mercury, which can harm the developing brain.

    Two advocacy organizations sued the Food and Drug Administrationlast week, demanding that the agency require canned and packaged fish to carry labels informing consumers of the mercury content, and that federal officials force grocery stores and fish markets to display information if they sell fish high in mercury.

    The F.D.A. long ago put out information about mercury in seafood, but the groups say it should be at consumers’ fingertips when they’re shopping for dinner.

    “People shouldn’t have to do detective work to get this information,” said Michael Bender, executive director of the Mercury Policy Project, one of the groups. Agency officials said they could not comment because of the continuing …

    Some fish contain mercury. For men and women not of childbearing age, it is not clear that mercury exposure from typical levels of fish intake has any adverse health effects. In contrast, fish intake has significant benefits for reducing the risk of death from heart disease, the number one cause of death. So, mercury exposure from fish intake should not be a major concern for men or for women not of childbearing age. The benefits of fish intake can be maximized by consuming a variety of different seafood.

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    michael

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