The Hazards of Canned Tuna Fish

Many people think of canned tuna fish as a convenient source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but the truth is that we may be doing more damage to our bodies than good by keeping it in our diets. Two serious hazards you will run into when ingesting canned tuna fish are the negative effects of mercury and BPA.

Mercury is a heavy metal that has been found to be present in canned tuna fish in amounts higher than deemed safe by the EPA, or U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Mercury can build up to toxic levels in the body resulting in peripheral neuropathy, skin discoloration, swelling, skin shedding and in high enough doses, even death. This toxic metal has found its way into the world's water supplies from human industrial activity with the largest source of contamination coming from coal-fueled power plants. The mercury becomes absorbed by the fish and those fish higher up in the food chain, such as tuna, shark, swordfish, tilefish, and lake trout, contain the greatest levels of mercury. The FDA recognizes the dangers involved with consuming fish that contain mercury and offer safety guidelines recommending that light tuna fish is the safest type of tuna fish to consume and to limit ingestion to 12oz a week.

BPA, or bisphenol-A, is an industrial chemical used in the lining of cans as well as in the manufacturing of plastics. It can seep into the food, such as canned tuna fish, and pose serious health risks for those consuming it. It has been correlated with diseases such as breast and prostate cancer, insulin resistance, and impaired fertility. Currently, the FDA is very concerned about the dangers of BPA and is looking for alternatives to its use.

Mercury and BPA clearly can cause health problems and so avoiding canned tuna fish is a healthy recommendation. However, do not avoid eating fish altogether! Fish does have some amazing nutrient potential; containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, selenium and protein. Simply choose non canned healthy sources of low-mercury fish such as catfish, flounder, haddock, herring, hake, shrimp, scallops, salmon, sardines, tilapia and whiting. It may take some time to learn how to properly prepare these fish, but if you do, you will reap all the health benefits while avoiding the hazards of canned tuna fish.

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