Environmental pollution is a global crisis that affects all of us on a very local level - at the dining room table. Brand-new studies show that high levels of toxic chemicals are in our tuna salads, our green bean casseroles, and even our apple pies. They threaten our children's development and put us at increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The good news is that you can still eat the food you love and reduce your exposure to these deadly poisons. Follow these straightforward steps to detoxify your family's food supply.
Mercury in Fish
The Hidden Danger
Eating fish seems like one of the healthiest food choices you can make; fish is low in fat and high in protein and brain-supporting Omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately their homes - our oceans, seas, and lakes - are filled with pollutants. One of the most potent is methylmercury, which once absorbed by algae sets off a chain of toxic accumulation: small fish eat the algae, bigger fish eat the smaller fish and so on up the food chain until these mercury-packed fish find their way to your supermarket.
When mercury gets into our bloodstream, it goes right to our brain and attacks our nervous system. Left untreated it can cause permanent neuropsychiatric brain damage, learning disorders in children, autoimmune disease, and even heart problems.
Symptoms of mercury poisoning:
- Difficulty thinking and/or concentrating
- Hair loss
- Muscle and joint pain
- Unsteady gait
- Numbness in fingers and toes
Your Safety Strategy
Even if you don't have these symptoms, mercury can still do you harm. It is the second most toxic agent next to plutonium, so experts recommend minimizing it as much as possible in your diet.
As a general rule, fish that are larger and caught when they are older have the most mercury. Salmon, which are usually caught around the age of 3, have some of the lowest levels (plus the highest levels of omega-3s) making them a great choice. Other small, young fish include herrings and sardines. Among the fish with the highest levels are tuna (especially albacore), tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel and shark. The Food and Drug Administration recommends that people eat albacore tuna once a week at most and chunk tuna no more than twice a week. Pregnant women (or those trying to conceive) should avoid high-mercury fish as much as possible.