When it comes to the question of whether you should be trying to find more ways to add fish to your, you’ve probably heard a lot of conflicting information. On the one hand, health experts tout the heart-healthy benefits of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil supplements, as well as their ability to support your immune system, improve your joint health, and improve your nervous system function. On the other hand, concerned consumers are characterizing fish (and the oils used to create fish-derived supplements) as unsafe foods because of the high levels of heavy metals and other contaminants that are building up in their flesh as they swim through increasingly polluted waters.
Because of this conflicting information, you may find yourself torn between your desire to optimize your diet to meet your personal wellness goals and your concerns about ingesting toxic compounds that could have negative impacts on your long-term health. Read on for more information about finding a safe fish oil supplement and making smart choices about which types of fish to include in your diet.
The Benefits of Concentrated Fish Oil Supplements
Some health experts claim that getting key nutrients from the food itself is sometimes preferable to taking a supplement, but with fish oils that may not necessarily be the case. The fish oil in your supplement gives you the omega-3 fatty acids from the fish meat in a highly concentrated form, which is ideal if you’re worried that eating enough fish to make a real difference in your body will require you to eat more toxin-containing fish meat than you’re comfortable with. The best fish oils on the market also contain an ideal ratio of EPA and DHA (the two fatty acids most commonly found in omega-3 fatty acid supplements). This optimal ratio isn’t always present in fish meat, so you may end up actually getting more health benefits from the supplement.
Finding an IFOS-Certified Fish Oil Supplement
Even though fish oil supplements are highly concentrated, there are still significant concerns about the presence of contaminants that have built up in the fatty tissues of the fish from which fish oil supplements are derived. As a result, when you take some fish oil supplements, you run the risk of exposure to heavy metals (like mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead), as well as harmful chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, and furans. The best way to avoid this risk is to choose fish oils that have been certified by the International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) program. This group certifies that fish oil supplements do not contain harmful levels of contaminants.
Recently, some environmental advocates have raised concerns that radioactive pollution in the oceans is making fish–and possibly the fish oils made from their tissue–unsafe to eat. Again, this issue shouldn’t be a concern for you if you’re taking a supplement that has been certified by the IFOS. Starting in 2015, they also started testing all batches of omega-3 fatty acid supplements for radiation. That way, when you take your fish oil supplement, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll be getting the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids without exposing yourself to the serious health dangers associated with radioactive waste.
The Best Fish to Add to Your Diet
An omega-3 fatty acid supplement is a great choice for supporting your general health and wellness, but you can still benefit from adding more fish to your diet. The polyunsaturated fats found in many types of fish are much more healthy than the saturated fat that you get when you eat red meat. Still, the combination of fat and protein in the fish you eat can help you stay full throughout the day, which can improve your energy levels and support your weight loss or weight maintenance goals.
A nutritional counselor like a chiropractor can help you navigate the options and determine how to balance our desire to reap the health benefits of eating fish while also avoiding safety risks. For instance, as more information comes out about chemical contaminants in fish, nutritional experts are recommending certain types of fish over others. To get you started, here are a few that are less likely to contain high levels of chemical contaminants or radiation, along with some creative ways to cook them this summer:
- Light tuna. Choose tuna canned in water (rather than oil) and mix it into a salad of leafy greens or whole grain pasta.
- Salmon. Wrap salmon fillets in tinfoil with summery vegetables like zucchini and bell peppers, and cook them on your outdoor barbecue!
- Shrimp. Offer shrimp as an appetizer at a summer cookout with a heart-healthy cocktail sauce with an olive oil and garlic powder base.
Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness is committed to helping you and your family choose the healthiest possible diet. Contact us today to learn more about all of our products and services!