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Fish and Those Omega 3’s

The thing that scares me a lot these days is heart disease. Mostly because it’s not some boogeyman invented to scare you into buying some supplement but an actual really, really well-documented condition that — purely statistically speaking — is more likely to kill you than anything else. And yes, that includes car accidents and cancer.

Which is why fish has become a personal favorite of mine lately.

The reason? Well, fish (and seafood in general, really) have a little something in them called omega-3 fatty acids. The big deal about omega-3’s is that there’s a really large amount of literature out there showing they’re a pretty essential nutrient in beating and managing heart disease. As well as a few other nasty diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and some cancers.

And while it’s important to note that a lot of this data comes from observational studies, which is a little different from, say, a clinical trial, the evidence is still strong enough that the American Heart Assocation actually recommends you eat fish at least twice a week. Same goes for the American Dietary Guidelines, which says 8 ounces.

Now, not all fish are made equal when it comes to omega-3’s. Fish like pollock and shrimp are pretty good sources of omega-3’s, but the gold standards are really your fatty, coldwater fish. Think salmon, mackerel, herring, or sardines — oh, and tuna.

There’s a slight caveat here, also. As you might already know, human pollution into waterways tends to lead to a build-up of mercury in fish, which is then passed onto us when we eat them. And while that’s nothing to panic about — the amount of mercury in your average fish isn’t going to hurt any healthy adult — pregnant women and people with kids might want to take special care about what they’re putting on their plate.

The good news is that the FDA has a pretty comprehensive chart of some good seafood choices for you if you happen to be any of the above. So go ahead and eat up.