Do you eat a lot of fish? Be careful: this can affect your health

Meat or fish? If we think about health, there is a clear winner: the food extracted from the bottom of the sea contains less fat than the meat that we obtain from calves or pigs, so it is surely the best choice if we think about having a healthy diet or losing weight . However, is it as healthy as it looks or how they paint it?

Fish contains multiple elements that can be harmful to health. The most famous of them is the anisakis, a parasite that is found in all those products that have not been previously frozen and that can cause serious damage to the digestive tract. But also, once frozen and later cooked, we can find mercury and other contaminants in their meat. Hence, many pregnant women are advised to limit their consumption.

One way to avoid mercury intake without stopping omega-3s is to take fish oil supplements

In recent decades, the level of metals found in this type of food has increased as a direct consequence of the pollution of our seas, rivers and oceans. One of them is polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), industrial chemicals that despite being banned in the 1980s still remain in our soil and water. And yes, also in the fish we eat. These have been associated with a wide variety of negative effects on health, especially related to the immune system or the brain, as the journalist explains Jessica Brown in an interesting 'BBC' article.

Best of cultivation?

Possible solutions? Johnathan napierDirector of Science at the University of Hertfordshire, ensures that human cultured species are safer than those of marine origin. "It is probable that the accumulation of toxic compounds is more severe in wild species that are fished for human consumption than those that we find in fish farms," ​​he says. However, this rule is not always met, and depending on the season of the year we are, PCB content fluctuates.

Marine ecosystems are an omega-3 orchard, as fish feed on plankton and are in turn eaten by larger fish

It should be noted that aquaculture, that is, the rearing of aquatic species, is also detrimental to the marine ecosystem, promoting ocean pollution with the waste it generates and also as a breeding ground for new diseases that can spread throughout the world. natural environment. What are the fish that can contain the highest levels of PCBs? The fattiest, such as samón or sardine, as well as some less greasy ones like crab or sea bass.

Omega-3 benefits

What about fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, so healthy and recommended in any good diet worth its salt? Foods such as salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies or mackerel have been linked to a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In addition, they contain eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which perform a large number of important functions in human metabolism. Both help reduce inflammation in the body, which reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. "A person who consumes more EPA and DHA has a lower risk of developing these conditions and dying from them," he corroborates Philip Calder, director of health at the University of Southampton.

The fish that will cost twice as much and it is better to buy and freeze now

Julio Martín Alarcón

One way to avoid mercury intake without having to stop eating omega-3s is to take fish oil supplements. But a recent investigation carried out by the WHO warns that these do not have the same effect as if we ingest it directly from the product. "Our bodies are adapted to metabolize food in a holistic way, not just a small portion of nutrients", Napier says.

Another variable that makes it more or less healthy is the way the fish are raised. Marine ecosystems are an omega-3 orchard, as fish feed on plankton and are in turn eaten by other larger fish, in such a way that a chain of this substance is produced that increases in quantity according to the size of the fish. In a fish farm, however, the thousands of fish that may exist eat what the farmer gives them. Therefore, as a conclusion, it is best to bet on a moderate and not excessive consumption.