Bum Rap for Albacore
Wild Albacore Tunaby Goody Solomon Published 06/02/2004 Poor albacore (white) tuna. This tasty, healthy food has gotten caught in the nets of environmental protectors who say methyl mercury contamination makes the fish unfit for childbearing women, nursing mothers and small children to eat. The mercury is said to get into oceans, lakes and rivers � and then into seafood � as a result of emissions from coal-burning power plants. No one disputes that mercury can be found in almost all seafood, nor that mercury levels in seafood pose no risks to boys and men, babies older than 2 years and postmenopausal women. In certain amounts, though, the heavy metal could interfere with development of the brain and nervous system in the fetus and infants. How much is dangerous? This is a critical question at the core of heated controversy. Let's look at some numbers. According to a yardstick developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration and National Academy of Sciences, women and babies can safely eat 0.1 micrograms of mercury per kilogram of body weight each day. In turn, the blood level of mercury would hover around 5.8 parts per billion, which is called a reference dose and is the lowest point in a 10-fold safety range. Therefore, as much as 58 ppb could be harmless, though federal officials say they prefer no one gets that high. EPA and FDA arrived at their numbers based on studies of native populations that eat a lot of fish and show no ill effects on adults or offspring. Given that some risk does exist, FDA and EPA have issued the following advice to the public: Women planning to become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers and children younger than 2 should avoid four fish species that may have high levels of mercury: shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel. The sensitive groups of women and infants should eat up to 12 ounces a week of a variety of fish and shellfish lower in mercury � for example, shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish. The 12 ounces could contain up to 6 ounces of canned albacore (white) tuna, which has more mercury than canned light tuna. The government advisory caused an uproar by environmental groups. The Environmental Working Group, one of the most vocal of the groups, charged, "If women follow the FDA's advice and eat one can of albacore tuna a week, hundreds of thousands more babies will be exposed to hazardous levels of mercury." EWG also predicted: "By eating 6 ounces of canned albacore tuna each week, a woman of average size (140 pounds) would exceed a safe dose of mercury by 30 percent," because her blood level would reach 8.6 ppb. That 8.6 ppb is no cause for alarm, assures FDA. Some groups, said an agency spokesperson, see the RfD of 5.8 "as a bright red line with no buffer either way. But there is no evidence to back that up." "We know there will be people above the reference dose, above the tenfold safety factor. But not far above it. They will be in the zone of safety," said David Acheson, M.D., FDA chief medical officer. What's more, the government wants people not to be afraid to eat fish, especially since most Americans do not eat enough of it. Dr. Acheson emphasized: "We believe two servings a week, or 12 ounces a week, will offer benefits. Most people do not eat two servings of fish a week. If we can get people to eat two servings a week, that would be great. ... We are trying ... to emphasize the positive message. It is important for people to understand fish is good for you." That brings us to a major point on which all sides agree: Expectant and nursing mothers need to eat seafood fish because it contains rich stores of omega three fatty acids, nutrients essential to the brain and nervous system. Average fish and seafood consumption in the U.S. is 19 pounds a year, compared to approximately 70 pounds each of poultry and meat. Among the seafood varieties Americans consume, tuna is relatively popular, accounting for almost 20 percent. Sadly, however, the environmentalists' attack on the government's seafood advisory seems to frighten consumers away from all tuna, indeed all fish, and the consequences could be more worrisome than the mercury pollution. Too little seafood in the diets of pregnant and nursing mothers deprive the unborn and the infant of the omega three fatty acids which they require. If pregnant and nursing women are not eating fish, the infant will pull omega three fatty acids from the mother's tissues and membranes, explained Joyce Nettelson, a nutrition scientist and independent consultant in Denver. Then, in subsequent pregnancies, the women have less available for additional children. Environmentalists focus on tuna as a way to forward their crusade for tighter regulation of coal-burning power plants. Mike Casey, EWG's public affairs vice president, accuses FDA of "soft pedaling health information to women because mercury contamination of tuna is how coal-burning plants end up on your fork. It is a powerful industry." Miss Nettelson among others would like the issues separated. "I would be happy to put scrubbers on coal-burning plants, but that's not going to happen in this administration" she said. "Please do not take one of the healthy foods out of the food supply."
Details announced amid focus on mercury levels
Research done in Astoria is gaining national attention amid discussion of mercury content in fish.
Michael Morrissey, director of the Oregon State University Seafood Laboratory in Astoria, presented his research on the mercury content of albacore tuna at a major conference in San Diego, Calif, last week.
His findings were good news for West Coast albacore fishermen and those who enjoy locally caught albacore tuna.
The annual National Forum on Contaminants in Fish provides an opportunity for fish biologists, toxicologists, environmental scientists and public health experts to gather and discuss the latest research related to contaminants in fish and shellfish. Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration were joined by state, local and tribal representatives.
The EPA and FDA are finalizing a joint National Mercury Advisory, to be released this spring. Research shows that certain species of fish � especially shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel � have mercury levels which can be harmful, especially if consumed by pregnant women and young children. High levels of mercury can damage the developing brain of a fetus or child. The mercury advisory may also warn that although tuna is safe to eat, mercury levels are higher in tuna steaks and canned albacore tuna compared with canned �light� tuna.
Most studies of mercury levels in canned tuna were done on the major brands available in the United States, such as Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea and StarKist, according to Morrissey of the OSU Seafood Lab. Albacore caught in the South Pacific for these large canneries usually weigh 40 to 60 pounds. Their mercury level averages 0.36 parts per million.
Morrissey and his fellow researchers, Tomoko Okada and Rosalee Rasmussen, found that troll-caught albacore harvested from waters off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington are smaller �10 to 24 pounds � and average only 0.14 parts per million of mercury, well below the EPA limit of 1 part per million.
Low mercury, troll-caught fish from the West Coast often end up in microcanneries, such as Josephson�s Smokehouse in Astoria. The canned albacore is sold locally and to stores through the region. Some is sent to gourmet markets in Europe.
Morrissey points out that these troll-caught albacore have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than most canned tuna, which is beneficial from a health standpoint.
Omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease, in part by lowering blood pressure and reducing triglyceride levels. Fish is the primary source of omega-3 fatty acids in our diets.
The Seafood Lab�s study should reassure consumers who are concerned about mercury levels in locally-caught tuna, but Morrissey worries that this information might get lost in the wake of a national mercury advisory.
�We don�t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater,� he says. �The advisory focuses on women of childbearing age and children.� But he is concerned that the public will mistakenly believe that everyone should reduce their fish consumption as a result.
�This would unnecessarily and wrongfully penalize the healthy albacore microcannery industry that has popped up in the last five to seven years.�
Salmon are also high in omega-3 fatty acids and very low in mercury, Morrissey added.
The Pacific Northwest fish that has the gourmet food world abuzz these days is albacore tuna -- in a can, no less.
Hand-caught, hand-filleted and hand-packed at microcanneries from Brookings to Astoria, premium canned albacore will account for 8 percent of Oregon's 7 million-pound albacore catch this year.
Custom canners tout the tuna's health benefits, saying tests show that it's higher in omega-3 fats and lower in mercury than supermarket brands.
Celebrity TV and radio chefs praise its superior taste, and food marketing experts say the new niche market for Northwest premium albacore should continue to grow.
Small coastal canneries have been turning out raw-packed, additive-free albacore for at least half a century. But that was news to David Rosengarten, a New York City-based cookbook author and TV chef, when he began his quest to find the world's best tuna.
He taste-tested more than 200 cans of tuna for his 11,000-circulation newsletter, "The Rosengarten Report," which won the 2003 James Beard award for best food and wine newsletter.
He pronounced the Northwest's microcannery products America's best canned tuna.
"I thought that what I was going to find was great European-style tuna," Rosengarten said. "I figured that I'd find super-high-quality, dark red Mediterranean-style tuna. As soon as I took mayonnaise and fork to Pacific Northwest tuna, that was it.
"I keep telling everybody, 'Forget everything else -- this is the tuna.' "
Among those Rosengarten told were the viewers of NBC's "Today" show and the listeners of Minnesota Public Radio's nationally syndicated "The Splendid Table."
In keeping with the product recommendations he's famous for, he also told those audiences they'd find America's best canned tuna at Great American Smokehouse and Seafood Co. in Brookings.
In the two months since the shows aired, sales have gone way up, smokehouse owner Nancy Myers said. She estimated that she's shipped 3,600 half-pound cans of albacore that retail for $5 each.
"The response has been phenomenal," Myers said. "They say, 'You've spoiled me. I'll never buy another can on the shelf again.' I had an e-mail saying, 'I open a can of tuna, and I eat it right out of the can.' They've never tasted anything that good."
A generation ago, a handful of coastal canneries served sport fishermen and canned coho salmon caught on fishing charters. Oregon's tuna fleet sold its entire catch to three giant cannery companies that cooked the fish twice and added spring water or vegetable oil to produce supermarket brands.
These days, the giant canneries buy only the larger, older fish caught by Asian tuna fleets, leaving Oregon tuna fishers to find new markets. That's one reason Oregon's microcanneries now turn out at least 17 private labels of canned albacore, most of them signature brands of the fishermen who caught the tuna.
Herb Goblirsch of Otter Rock pioneered "from my boat to your table" custom canning with his Oregon's Choice Gourmet Albacore in 1981.
The albacore filling Goblirsch's hold are migrating juvenile tuna that follow the Japanese current to Northwest waters. They feed on shrimp, krill and sardines 30 to 100 miles offshore from June through October. The tuna are troll-caught on the surface with lures and landed by hand.
Goblirsch studied Japan's exacting standards for fish handling to produce the highest-quality sashimi-grade fish, the thinly sliced raw fish sold in sushi bars.
Care from the water
"The difference in the can starts with how you take care of the fish when it comes out of the water," he said. "It's not a production cannery boat. It's a quality, one-at-a-time fishing boat."
This year he'll land 60,000 pounds of albacore and produce 30,000 half-pound cans.
"I have over 3,600 families that buy from me across the country," he said. "I don't even advertise. My business grows from word of mouth -- somebody tells their neighbor or a friend -- and it grows like a pyramid scheme. If the whole U.S. knew what we had, they would be knocking our doors down."
Many of Oregon's 100 tuna boats are following Goblirsch's lead in producing sashimi-grade albacore. For those with private labels, the special handling continues at the cannery.
At Chuck's Seafood in Charleston, the five-member canning crew goes through 2,500 pounds of albacore a day. Two trim each 10- to 30-pound fish into fillets, and three others cut, weigh and pack the raw fillets into half-pound cans.
Some brands add salt or garlic for flavor before cooking, but most private-label tuna is packed in its own juice. The microcanneries say that accounts for its superior taste -- and justifies higher prices that range from $5 to $7.95 for a half-pound can.
"You pay for quality"
"It kind of goes right along with microbrew beers and espresso," said Heath Hampel, co-owner of Chuck's Seafood. "You pay for quality. It's not really expensive for what you get. It's just fish as good as it comes out of the ocean,"
Hampel estimated that this year he'll turn out 300,000 cans of gourmet albacore -- his own label plus more than a dozen private brands. Most are sold by mail order from fishermen's homes or by hand at farmers markets. Some of the older brands, such as Goblirsch's, also sell to retail stores.
"It has a nice label, a nice story and a nice message," said Nick Furman of the Oregon Albacore Commission. "The element of direct to the consumer from the fishermen -- there's a cachet about that."
But for serious foodies such as Rosengarten, taste is the ultimate cachet: "I thought the days of great white tuna were over, but what's being produced in the Pacific Northwest today is taking up the slack. It's really good stuff."
Washington, D.C. (Jul 12, 2006 22:36 EST) The following is a statement released by Anne Forristall Luke, President, U.S. Tuna Foundation Concerning Defenders of Wildlife Survey of Canned Tuna:
America is in the midst of a health crisis, and an unintended and unfortunate consequence of a report released today by the Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Mercury Policy Project may well contribute to that crisis.
Obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Diabetes is on the rise. Heart disease is the leading killer in America today. Science has shown that fish is a powerful antidote to combat these health problems. Americans need to eat more fish, in the opinion of healthcare and nutrition experts across the country.
But today's report by Defenders of Wildlife, the Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Mercury Policy Project promises to add to widespread consumer confusion about the safety of seafood and, in the process, do more harm to public health than good for the environment.
Just a week ago, CSPI publicly decried growing consumer confusion about seafood's safety, releasing a survey documenting that mixed messages and lack of clarity are likely leading Americans to avoid eating fish altogether - posing a significant risk to public health.
A.C. Nielsen data shows that, in fact, more than 11 million low-income American families - including a high proportion of those at greatest risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease - have stopped eating canned tuna . Canned tuna has no peer when it comes to the combination of affordability and quality lean protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, so when millions of Americans at high risk for heart disease, obesity and diabetes stop eating it, the adverse impact on public health can be expected to be significant.
The members of the U.S. Tuna Foundation - Bumble Bee, StarKist and Chicken of the Sea -- stand by the quality, safety and nutritional benefits of our products.
We advocate responsible government testing of canned tuna for mercury content as well as educating the public. The public can have confidence in the FDA's comprehensive testing program. In contrast to the Defenders of Wildlife 164-can sample, which is statistically insignificant, the FDA tested more than 10,000 cans of tuna before it developed the FDA/EPA advisory that offers guidance to women who are or might become pregnant and small children. The FDA advises this group on the need to safely incorporate fish and canned tuna into their diets and reap its nutritional and developmental benefits. The FDA encourages all other groups to eat more fish, including canned tuna.
We practice responsible stewardship of the oceans; all the products we produce are certified dolphin-safe.
The American Heart Association, the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have urged Americans to make fish an essential part of their diet because of its proven health benefits - recognizing that the trace amount of mercury that is naturally occurring and found in most seafood, including canned tuna, is just that - a trace amount. As the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis concluded after a comprehensive study, the benefits of fish consumption FAR outweigh the risk of any harm from the trace amounts of mercury present. In fact, the Defenders of Wildlife acknowledges on its Web site the "well-known health benefits to eating light canned tuna."
We urge consumers to take the time to review the real science, which demonstrates that canned tuna is one of the healthiest foods for Americans of any age. Canned tuna has been a healthy staple in the American diet for more than 100 years and remains so.
New Studies Confirm Everyone Benefits from Eating Fish Underscores The Benefits of Canned Tuna
Washington, DC, February 23, 2006 � A new study presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAS) reveals that teens whose mothers maintained high fish diets during their pregnancy outperformed teens whose mothers ate less seafood. Philip W. Davidson, professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and psychiatry at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, presented the findings.
Conducted in the Seychelles Islands where the consumption of seafood is between 12 and 14 fish meals a week compared to an average of one meal a week in the U.S, the study has tracked the health status of children since birth whose mothers consumed ten times more mercury during pregnancy than U.S. mothers. After almost 16 years, all 789 children are healthy and �the large consumption of seafood appeared to benefit the children in some developmental aspects.� In fact, these children outperformed other children whose mothers consumed less fish during pregnancy in language, drawing and copy motor skills, according to Dr. Davison.
The new findings from the Seychelles come after a long-term study of 14,000 British children provided new insights into the beneficial effects of the essential omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. In January, Dr. Jo Hibbeln from the National Institutes of Health reported that the amount of omega-3 fatty acids found in pregnant women�s diets helped determine a child�s intelligence, motor skills and behavior. According to Dr. Hibbeln�s analysis, children of pregnant women whose diets had the least amount of omega-3 fatty acids had verbal IQ�s six points lower than the average.
The new Seychelles data also reflect the real world experience of high fish-consuming countries like Japan and the United Kingdom. Studies in these countries find that although fish consumption and mercury levels are higher than in the U.S., children have no neurological problems. In fact, recent data from the National Institute for Minamata Disease in Japan, show that the Japanese, who eat an average of 145.7 pounds of tuna and other fish a year compared to only 16.6 pounds for the average American, have healthier children who score extremely high on math, science and IQ tests.
Putting these findings into perspective, Conrad Shamlaye, an epidemiologist with the Ministry of Health in the Seychelles, said: �If these people ate 10 times the level of fish with no problems, then Americans should not worry about consuming fish.�
But, according to information from the U.S. Tuna Foundation, misinformation is confusing the public and turning them away from fish and canned tuna. According to a national Nielsen panel of 60,000 Americans, millions of American families are no longer consuming canned tuna, including lower-income consumers who are most affected by obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. At the same time, a poll for the University of Maryland by Opinion Research Corporation finds that almost one-third of the public (31 percent) reports being concerned about the amount of mercury in fish and shellfish and as a result, many consumers are cutting back on the amount of seafood they eat.
�I cannot understand how special interest groups can put their political agenda above the public health,� said David Burney, United States Tuna Foundation Executive Director. �I am asking these organizations to stop scaring the public and to help us get out an accurate message that will benefit all Americans, especially lower income and elderly Americans.�
Canned tuna provides a number of important health benefits and is a primary source of fish for lower and middle class American families. Researchers at Harvard found that if Americans reduce their fish consumption out of confusion about mercury, there will be serious public health consequences, notably higher death rates from heart disease and stroke.
�From the standpoint of public health, the real risk for the public is not getting enough fish and canned tuna in the diet,� said Burney. �We need to end the confusion over mercury in fish for the welfare of all Americans and especially low income consumers whose health will benefit the most from consuming fish and canned tuna on a regular basis. Those who depend on canned tuna the most need to know how healthy and safe this product is.�
Tuna Industry Confirms FDA Findings on Safety of Canned Tuna
Outlines Inaccuracies and Omissions in Media Reports
Washington, DC; January 27, 2006 -- The U. S. Tuna Foundation today called the continuing series of reports in the Chicago Tribune irresponsible journalism designed to alarm the public about a healthy and popular food when all government studies in the U.S. and abroad confirm that canned tuna is a safe and nutritious food product.
Responding to the sixth article in an ongoing series by the Chicago Tribune, the U.S. Tuna Foundation (USTF) challenged how the newspaper interpreted the findings of new testing data from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about mercury levels in commercially sold fish. Although the testing data clearly show that the mercury levels in canned tuna products are well within the safe limits established by the FDA, the Tribune article attempts to extrapolate a different conclusion by selectively using only a small data sample.
According to FDA�s latest testing data for mercury levels in commercially sold fish and shellfish, the average amount of mercury in light canned tuna remains at 0.12 parts per million (ppm), which is eight times lower than the very conservative 1.00-ppm limit for commercial fish set by FDA. As a result, FDA has determined that canned light tuna is a low mercury fish that is safe for all Americans.
�It�s time to end the madness about mercury levels in canned tuna,� said Dave Burney, USTF�s Executive Director. �No one is at risk from the minute amounts of mercury in canned tuna. This is the conclusion of the FDA and the public health community.�
The U.S. Tuna Foundation also emphasized that no government study has ever found unsafe levels of mercury in anyone who ate canned tuna. This includes two large studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a recent study by the National Institute for Minamata Disease in Japan, where people eat an average of 145.7 pounds of fish a year, compared to only 16.6 pounds for the average American. According to this study, 72 percent of all Japanese women have significantly higher concentrations of mercury in their systems than U.S. women but without any evidence of health effects for themselves or their children.
As additional evidence, USTF pointed to the findings of a major study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, which confirms that the health benefits of consuming seafood far outweigh any risk due to trace amounts of mercury in fish. Published in the November 2005 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the new study concludes that for women of childbearing age, cognitive benefits can be achieved with virtually no negative impact on the developing child if women of childbearing age eat two servings a week of fish that are low in mercury. The Harvard researchers further reveal that if Americans reduce their fish consumption out of confusion about mercury, there will be serious public health consequences, notably higher death rates from heart disease and stroke.
Updated Dietary Guidelines Promote Benefits of Eating More Fish
Guidelines Support Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Disease Prevention
Washington, D.C.; January 12, 2005 -- The U.S. Tuna Foundation (USTF) today said that the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will help to underscore the important health benefits of canned tuna and other fatty fish for people of all ages.
Responding to the new recommendation that consumers eat two eight-ounce servings a week of foods rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), USTF said that canned tuna is an excellent source of these two essential fatty acids. In fact, of the top 10 most commonly consumed fish in this country, salmon and canned albacore tuna have the highest levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutritional Database. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because the body does not make them and must get these fatty acids from food sources.
In making this recommendation, the 13-member 2005 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee whose scientific review formed the basis for updating the government�s nutrition advice concluded that higher levels of EPA and DHA are associated with the reduced risk of both sudden death and death from coronary heart disease in adults. Specifically the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee estimates a 30 percent reduction in the risk of coronary deaths with the increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Further, the panel recommended fish over supplements as a source of omega-3 fatty acids because epidemiological studies and other data demonstrate that fish also is high in other nutrients and is low in saturated fat and calories.
Besides being cardio-protective, USTF pointed to a growing body of research that links omega-3 fatty acids with optimal brain function and cognition, improved eye and skin health, protection against certain cancers, and a therapeutic effect on depression and specific autoimmune diseases including lupus, psoriasis and arthritis.
At the same time, the omega-3 fatty acids in canned tuna are essential for the developing brain during pregnancy and the first two years of a baby�s life. According to numerous studies, DHA comprises approximately 40 percent of the polyunsaturated fatty acid content in the cell membranes in the brain and is transferred from mother to the fetus at a high rate during the last trimester of pregnancy. Along with DHA, the developing fetus uses EPA for the growth of the brain and the developing nervous system.
Besides being a rich source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, the US Tuna Foundation said that eating more canned tuna will also help Americans meet the recommendations of the new Dietary Guidelines to lower the amount of saturated fat they consume and to achieve a healthy weight. This is because canned tuna is low in fat, rich in certain vitamins and minerals and is so high in protein that one six-ounce can yields one-third of the recommended daily amount. Moreover, canned tuna is very low in calories compared to other protein sources. There are 116 calories in a 100-gram serving of water-packed canned tuna compared with 208 calories in the same serving of turkey.
Eating More Canned Tuna May Help to Control Epilepsy
Research Shows Important Role of the Omega-3 Fatty Acid, DHA
Washington, DC; May 7, 2004 -- At a time when an estimated 2.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with epilepsy, one of the most common disorders of the nervous system, there is good news: eating more fatty fish, such as canned tuna, may help to control the seizures associated with the disease.
At the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers from the Emory University School of Medicine announced the findings of a new study, showing that people with a common type of seizure (refractory complex partial seizures) often have significantly lower amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in their blood. Because this form of epilepsy is often resistant to drug treatment, the researchers suggest that an important way to control these seizures may be as simple as consuming more foods rich in DHA, such as canned tuna.
Comprising approximately 40 percent of the polyunsaturated fatty acid content in the cell membranes in the brain, DHA is an important structural component of brain tissue. Some scientists now believe that a deficiency of DHA in the diet could translate into impaired brain function. In fact, research reveals that low serum DHA levels are also a significant risk factor for the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Because the body does not produce DHA naturally, the only source is through the diet, mainly in fatty fish.
"This study, if confirmed by additional research, supports the evidence that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish are important for brain function," said Joyce Nettleton, D.Sc., R.D., author of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Health and a member of the Tuna Nutrition Council, which advises USTF on nutrition and public health matters. "We know that fatty fish is rich in DHA, so adding canned tuna and other types of fish to the diet may help maintain brain function throughout life."
Of the top 10 most commonly consumed fish in this country, salmon and canned albacore tuna have the highest levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutritional Database.
Besides the new research findings regarding controlling epilepsy, a number of clinical and research studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, in particular DHA, are vital for cognitive function (the ability to perceive and interpret information correctly) -- especially as people age -- and for other brain functions. DHA may also help to combat depression. In fact, countries with the lowest rates of fish consumption (and thus the lowest consumption of DHA) tend to have the highest rates of depression.
According to Dr. Nettleton, the average American eats about 15 pounds of fish a year compared to about 70 pounds of poultry. Recognizing the many health benefits associated with fish consumption -- including the positive influence on brain functioning -- health organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association recommend that people eat two servings a week of fish, especially fatty fish such as canned tuna.
tudy Finds No Link Between Mercury Levels and Mental Impairment in Adults
New Data Shows No Risk Among Older Adults and Confirms Health Benefits
Washington, DC; May 5, 2005 -- The U.S. Tuna Foundation (USTF) today said that by showing that older Americans are not at risk from the trace amounts of mercury in fish, a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health should reassure the public -- men as well as women -- that eating fish, such as canned tuna, is safe and should be encouraged because of the many health benefits associated with seafood consumption.
Published in the April 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the new study finds no evidence of a link between mercury levels and older adults' performance on mental tests. Specifically, researchers from Johns Hopkins tested the blood mercury levels of 474 Baltimore residents aged 50-70 and also gave the study participants 12 tests covering memory, manual dexterity, intelligence, verbal skills, and other traits. After conducting their analysis, the researchers concluded that there is no risk of neurological problems or cognitive decline if seniors eat fish.
Of added significance, the new Johns Hopkins study shows that the amount of mercury in the blood of American seniors is well within the government�s �recommended� range for even the more conservative subpopulation, pregnant women and women of childbearing age. Using the Environmental Protection Agency�s (EPA) guideline of 5.8 micrograms per liter or less of mercury in the blood, the researchers found that the older Americans studied had an average blood level of mercury of 2.1 micrograms per liter. Since older Americans typically consume about the same amount of fish as younger adults, this study validates findings by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that no one in the U.S. has anywhere near the amount of mercury in their system from eating seafood known to cause a health problem.
�This study provides very good news for Americans that have been concerned about mercury levels in fish,� said Jay Murray, Ph.D., a toxicologist that specializes in maternal and fetal health and a member of the Tuna Nutrition Council, which advises USTF on nutrition and public health matters. �While there has been a lot of hype about people being exposed to too much mercury, this study finds that this is simply not the case in an urban adult population.�
Study Underscores Cardio-Protective Benefits
Complementing these findings, the Johns Hopkins study underscored the cardio-protective benefits of seafood consumption, which is why seniors are often encouraged to eat more fish. According to an extensive body of research, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish have been shown to reduce the risk of both sudden death and death from coronary heart disease in adults. Based on these findings, the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that consumers eat two eight-ounce servings a week of foods, such as fish, that are rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).
Of the top 10 most commonly consumed fish in this country, salmon and canned albacore tuna have the highest levels of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutritional Database.
Canned Tuna Is Nature�s Healthy Fast Food
Besides the benefits for older Americans, the omega-3 fatty acids found in canned tuna are important for people of all ages, which is why several health organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association now recommend that people eat two to three servings of a variety of fish a week, including canned tuna. According to a number of recent studies, the omega-3 fatty acids found in canned tuna and other types of fish reduces the likelihood of blood clots and stroke, protects against certain cancers, has a therapeutic effect on autoimmune diseases, and helps to relieve depression.
storia research finds local albacore is very safe to eat
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
By Kathryn B. Brown
East Oregonian Publishing Group