If you’re a seafood lover like I am, finding new ways to enjoy it isn’t a problem. From tuna salad lunches and shrimp cocktail appetizers to baked salmon dinners, I could probably eat some type of seafood with every meal. But I’ve always been a little wary about doing so, since fish is known to contain mercury, a heavy metal that’s been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. But a new study offers great news for seafood fans: It seems that in small portions, the mercury in seafood isn’t harmful to your health!
Is the mercury in seafood dangerous?
A study published this week by JAMA Network looked at whether eating seafood caused an increase in mercury levels, and further, whether there was an increased risk of heart disease and death as a result. Between 2003 and 2012, more than 17,000 study participants tracked their seafood consumption, disease history, and health status. During this time, researchers regularly collected blood samples from the subjects to assess their blood mercury levels. Data regarding the participants’ longevity was collected until the end of 2015.
By the end of the study, researchers found that eating one ounce of seafood per day did not increase people’s blood mercury levels, nor did it lead to a greater incidence of heart disease or death. Factors such as age, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol were more closely tied to higher blood mercury concentration — but interestingly, blood mercury levels weren’t associated with heart disease or life expectancy at all.
How much seafood should you eat?
The conclusion? Eating seafood in moderation is safe and can be beneficial as part of a healthy diet. In fact, it’s recommended by The American Heart Association that women over 50 eat foods such as salmon, mackerel, and canned sardines twice a week to maintain healthy hormone levels. Furthermore, it’s been shown that the omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood can help prevent a heart attack and stroke.
These health perks should be enough to make even those who turn their noses up at seafood reconsider. (Here’s are some tasty salmon recipes to get you started!) As for us seafood lovers, we can feel good about making the fish counter the first place we head to on our next trip to the grocery store!