Everyone knows that eating fish is good for your body. However, recent studies have shown that eating fish is better for you than we ever knew. For example, eating fish is a factor that raises one's odds of becoming pregnant.
The scientists who did this study interviewed 501 couples who were actively trying to conceive without medical intervention and followed them for up to a year to see if they became pregnant.
Each couple recorded their individual fish consumption and the study was controlled for factors such as smoking and alcohol intake, exercise, age, education level, and other factors.
The study found that men who consumed at least two four-ounce servings of fish per week had a 47% shorter amount time to pregnancy, and women had a 60% shorter time compared to people who ate one or no servings per week.
People who eat fish also tend to have sexual intercourse 22% more frequently than those who don't, however, the association between fish and pregnancy persisted despite controlling for frequency of sexual intercourse. After one year, 92% of couples were pregnant who ate fish twice a week or more, compared with 79% of those who did not.
Some research has speculated that seafood could improve semen quality and egg release, but scientists can’t pinpoint exactly the reason for the improved pregnancy rates when it comes to higher fish consumption.
Further studies have shown that selenium improves sperm motility and morphology. Having a selenium deficiency is also a factor for women who can't carry a pregnancy to term.
Women have been apprehensive to eat fish because of the increasing threat of mercury poisoning and the low-level contamination in seafood that is commonly consumed like shrimp and canned tuna. The growing problem of dirty oceans has led to fish being contaminated by mercury and pollutants.
While mercury is a naturally occurring element that is found in plants, animals and the environment, the rise of industrial endeavors over the past 150 years has increased the amount of mercury in the air.
Fish are affected by the amount of mercury, specifically, methylmercury cysteine, which is the type of mercury that is found in seafood and can ultimately affect the human who eats that fish.
Methylmercury is retained by animals and inorganic mercury leaves fish through waste. Small fish eat zooplankton that have been exposed to methylmercury. These fish are then eaten by larger fish, and the mercury continues to move up the food chain until it reaches humans. This contamination is cumulative.
Fish is consumed much more in other countries than it is in the U.S., suggesting that people in places like Japan have accumulated a lot of ethylmercury, however, it hasn't led to any problems.
But studies have found that the high amounts of selenium in ocean fish sequesters mercury and neutralizes its toxic effects. This is possibly why studies have been unable to find an epidemic of child developmental problems in coastal populations such as Japan where a lot of fish is consumed.
Also, the omega-3 fatty acids that are in healthy seafood are vital for one's overall health.
However, methylmercury is dangerous for the nervous system and brain of unborn babies and developing babies. Methylmercury crosses the placenta, where the concentration of mercury in a developing fetus's red blood cells can be 30% higher than in those of the mother.
There is some trouble with fish today. The production of salmon has been on a decline, there have been traces of illegal antibiotics found in Asian shrimp, and toxicology tests have revealed that farmed salmon is one of the most toxic foods in the world, specifically, it is over 5 times as toxic than any other food.
The guidelines for clean-eating seafood say that the safest seafood to eat are fresh-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring and anchovies. Some people may believe farmed fish is the healthiest and most environmentally friendly option, but the truth is that fish farming isn't much different than concentrated animal feeding operations.
One of the biggest problems is the salmon pens that are situated next to wild salmon runs. This threatens the lives of wild-caught salmon because the farmed variety often carry diseases.
Science reported that a threat to the salmon market is the addition of persistent organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls, which are known as one of the most toxic pervasive chemicals ever created.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that these chemicals don’t break down, can live for a long time in the air, water, and soil. They can travel long distances and are absorbed by small organisms and fish. These chemicals have life-altering consequences for humans.
So, should you consume fish? Fish has been a staple food for humankind since the beginning of time. It’s a lean protein that contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and compounds that help reduce blood pressure, decrease macular degeneration, fight off depression, and prevent osteoporosis and diabetes.
Research also focuses on the anti-inflammatory influence of the omega-3 fatty acids in fish, which helps reduce the hardening and narrowing of arteries that leads to heart disease.
So, while it is best to steer clear of high-mercury seafood, if you choose the healthiest options of seafood, the benefits are worth the risk.
Keep in mind, your best options are small, cold-water, fatty fish. The healthiest fish are anchovies, sardines, mackerel, herring, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon. Stay away from farmed fish to not only help your health but to also help the environment.