Fish consumption forms a vital part of many dietary patterns that have been linked to health, like the Mediterranean diet, but concerns over environmental contaminants and the safety of farmed versus wild species may leave one confused as to whether it is advisable to eat fish. Two comprehensive reports concluded that the benefits of modest fish consumption, especially species high in omega-3 fatty acids – specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – outweigh the potential risks.
An analysis of studies on fish and health published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that consuming one to two servings of omega 3rich fish lowered the risk of coronary (heart-related) death by 36% and total mortality by 17%, while also possibly affecting other clinical outcomes favourably. When it comes to salmon, this fish is not only high in omega-3 fatty acids and rich in protein, it also contains very low levels of methylmercury, especially if one chooses wild-caught species. Methylmercury is an environmental pollutant that bioaccumulates in fish and, more specifically, in larger longer-lived predators like swordfish and sharks. These species should be avoided, especially when pregnant. The amino acid tryptophan – also found in salmon – is a precursor of serotonin, which can help manage depression. Salmon is also a good source of vitamin D, an essential nutrient for bone health.