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We might be surprised to know that fish oils have been around for quite a while now. While the controversy about red meat and cholesterol ranges on, for body make up and energy, protein consumption is expedient. Plant protein is generally preferred to animal protein but all of us don’t have to be vegetarian. Another good source of animal protein that is heart friendly is fish.

In a statement with the Future Minds Development Initiative, Dr. Adewuyi who works with Oke Ado Medical Hospital in Ibadan said the consumption of fish, fish oils and n-3 PUFA is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Fish contains unsaturated fatty acids, which, when substituted for saturated fatty acids such as those in meat, may lower your cholesterol. But the main beneficial nutrient appears to be omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fatty acid that may reduce inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in the body can damage your blood vessels and lead to heart disease and strokes.

“Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease triglycerides, lower blood pressure slightly, reduce blood clotting, decrease stroke and heart failure risk and reduce irregular heartbeats. Eating at least one to two servings a week of fish, particularly fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly sudden cardiac death.”

He added that while the policies on diet change from one country to another, the benefits of fish oil cannot be overemphasized.  Fish and fish oil can help prevent cardiovascular death and still serve as ‘meat’ for the non-vegetarians. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week.   Darker fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna are high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Increasing omega-3 fatty acid consumption through foods is preferable.”

However, those with coronary artery disease may not get enough omega-3 by diet alone. These people may have to supplement with omega – H3 capsules under the supervision of their physician. High intakes could cause excessive bleeding in some people, he added.

Dr. Adewuyi said as nice as the consumption of fish is, some types of fish may contain high levels of mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), dioxins and other environmental contaminants that are injurious to our health. Older, larger and predatory fish and marine animals are high in mercury. Five of the most commonly eaten fish or shellfish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tile fish because they contain high levels of mercury. High level of mercury in the system is dangerous, please be selective on the type of fish you eat. Mercury toxicity can damage other organs in the body, especially the kidney.

He however noted that the food and drug control authorities said that pregnant women should not eat some kinds of fish, king mackerel being one of them; because of the risk of mercury toxicity to the fetus.

 

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