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Marc Joseph
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Linda, In the original post above, see the "What to Do" section. There, you'll find a link to an online calculator that helps identify safer types of fish. Unfortunately, there aren't any fish that have no contaminants. It's just some have more or less than others. The best bet for getting healthy omega-3 fats found in fish on a regular basis is by taking fish oil supplements that have been tested for contaminants. In the "What to Do" section in the original post above, you'll also find a link to a list of safe supplement products. Regarding wild vs. farm-raised salmon, it all depends on the conditions in which the fish are raised and what they're fed. In general, wild-type fish are preferred. Some research suggests that farm-raised salmon may be much higher in PCBs. You can read more about that issue here (see the related articles in the right-hand column of this link as well): http://www.ewg.org/issues/siteindex/issues.php?issueid=5007 Hope that's helpful, Marc http://www.MarcJosephNutrition.com
FB, Shellfish is fine in moderation. The original research that estimated shellfish cholesterol levels used less sophisticated testing methods that weren't able to distinguish between cholesterol and other sterols. As a result, cholesterol levels looked higher than they actually were. Summary here: http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2006-rst/3337.html Longer explanation here: http://www.raysahelian.com/shellfish.html Here's a table with the cholesterol content of various foods: http://www.webdietitian.com/document/CVTopic/topic /pencvdietarycholesterol Shrimp, crab, and lobster tend to have the highest cholesterol levels. Salmon is lower and has higher levels of healthy Omega-3 fats. It's important to note (and not well-known) that the average person's body generates about 1000 mg of cholesterol per day from both external sources (diet) and internal sources (created by the body's cells). The average daily dietary cholesterol intake is ~600 mg, of which only about one-half is absorbed, or ~300 mg. So, the typical diet only supplies less than one-third of your daily cholesterol. The rest is produced by cells in your body -- about 20% by cells in your liver and the other 80% by other cells in the body. Statins work by inhibiting an enzyme that is involved in producing cholesterol in the liver. Note that, using the table in the link above, you'd have to eat more than 3/4 lb. of shrimp or crab to take in 600 mg of cholesterol. I wouldn't recommend eating that much regularly, but it helps put things into perspective. I would be more concerned with potential toxins (heavy metals, PCBs) in seafood, as well as with antibiotics used in farm-raised species (e.g., shrimp). These levels, of course, vary depending on where the seafood was sourced. I would also be more concerned with overall intake of saturated fat and trans fat, both of which are positively correlated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease. There are actually several different types of saturated fat. Some may promote higher bad cholesterol levels, while others may be neutral in their effect. Moderation is key. Trans fats, on the other hand, are bad all around. Cholesterol is an important chemical compound in the body. It's used for hormones, bile salts, and even vitamin D. But there are several types (LDL, HDL, etc.), and ratios between those different types may be just as important as overall levels for predicting heart disease risk. Cholesterol is often not the biggest problem in heart disease. Inflammation is. More on that here: http://www.marcjosephnutrition.com/heart-disease.html Marc http://www.MarcJosephNutrition.com
I think it's great that Oceana and other groups are pushing for greater disclosure about mercury in stores that sell fish. I'm not sure, though, how many people actually see the signs. I've gone to a couple of Whole Foods (on Oceana's "Green List"), and the signs were placed on the wall to the very side of the fish counter. Most people probably buy fish and never even see the signs. There really needs to be a concerted government education effort that clearly lays things out for consumers through press releases, media coverage, and website tools. The IOM recommended those actions in its report. We'll see...