The American Heart Association recommends eating fish containing omega-3s, including albacore, at least twice a week to lower the risk of heart disease. It’s an excellent source of lean protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, selenium, niacin, and is low in sodium.
Omega-3s have been shown to:
- Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease
- Help with circulatory problems such as varicose veins, fish oil stimulates blood circulation
- Reduce blood pressure
- Omega-3's significantly reduce blood triglyceride (fat) levels, and regular intake reduces the risk of secondary and primary heart attack
Be beneficial for those suffering rheumatoid arthritis and cardiac arrhythmia
Help in treating depression and anxiety
- Research indicates that a diet rich in omega-3s may reduce the risk of stroke
The fish you buy in the grocery store is either caught in the wild (in an ocean, river or freshwater lake) or raised on a fish farm.
Though farm-raised fish contain omega-3s in amounts similar to that of wild fish, they also tend to have more total fat and calories. They may also have higher levels of contaminants because of toxins present in the feed given to fish that are farm-raised.
Many of the concerns about farmed fish stem from variable environmental and health standards at farms in countries outside the U.S. Like any farming, the methods and environment in which fish are raised impacts the quality of the final product.
Mercury & Albacore
Many news stories have addressed the issues of mercury content in seafood. Though some of the articles are accurate, many tell only "part of the story" or are inaccurate. Most articles make no distinction between the different levels of mercury found in various sizes and types of tuna.
Independent research tests have demonstrated that the smaller, younger albacore caught by U.S. trollers based on the West coast have lower mercury levels than the larger longline-caught albacore, along with higher levels of important omega-3 oils.
As outlined by the EPA, mercury occurs naturally in the environment and can also be released into the air through industrial pollution. Mercury falls from the air and can accumulate in streams and oceans and is turned into methylmercury in the water. It is this type of mercury that can be harmful to your unborn baby and young child. Fish absorb the methylmercury as they feed in these waters and so it builds up in them. It builds up more in some types of fish and shellfish than others, depending on what the fish eat, which is why the levels vary.
The Western Fishboat Owners Association has an informational paper online addressing these issues in detail.
How Much Fish is Safe to Eat?
Most people's fish consumption doesn't cause a health concern. In fact, nutritionists say that most people don't get enough fish in their diet. For the majority of people, especially those at risk of heart disease, the omega-3 benefits of eating fish probably outweigh any potential risks.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat at least two 3-ounce servings of fish, preferably those rich in omega-3s, each week.
Selenium as a Mitigating Factor
The reason that high doses of methylmercury (the type of mercury commonly found i can cause harm in the body appears to be because mercury interferes with the normal metabolic activities of selenium, an essential dietary nutrient.
Supplementation with additional selenium has long been known to protect the body from adverse effects of mercury exposure. It now appears that this occurs because the additional selenium replaces the selenium that becomes unusable because of mercury binding. In addition, the considerable selenium content in albacore is beneficial; selenium binds to mercury, decreasing or eliminating its negative effects on the system.