Wellness Magazines… That Worsen Your Health?
People who buy magazines for tips and information on healthy living are looking for simple, clear, reliable advice to improve their health and wellbeing. Whether theyre reading nutrition tips or lifestyle how-tos, they expect the content to be accurate and current.
So its baffling that many of these publications dont correctly communicate factual information on seafood considered a superfood by the experts especially considering that U.S. government guidelines and scientific research are easily accessible online. Unfortunately, their incorrectly caveated advice and baseless warnings may actually cause their readers to suffer from dangerous health consequences.
Consider some recent examples:
- Prevention Magazine: 3 Surprisingly Unhealthy Seafood Picks. The article claims mercury is building up in some of America’s favorite seafood dishes as ocean pollution reaches unprecedented levels. This is false. Levels of mercury in commercial seafood are miniscule, mostly naturally occurring in ocean fish and just as they were nearly 100 years ago. And all of the top 10 most popular fish consumed in America have little mercury and fall well within FDAs safety threshold.
- Psychology Today: Nutrition Part One: Avoiding Harmful Foods. The author advises everyone to avoid seafood high in mercury, like tuna, marlin, swordfish, and shark. But according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the general population can enjoy all varieties of fish without any restrictions. For pregnant and breastfeeding women and children it is suggested that they restrict their intake of four exotic and rarely eaten fish: tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel. As for eating canned tuna, there are no restrictions for the general population and even pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as children can eat 6 ounces of canned albacore tuna or 12 ounces of light tuna weekly
- Better Homes and Gardens: 6 of the Healthiest Fish to Eat (And 6 to Avoid). The piece frequently references Monterey Bay Aquariums Seafood Watch program, even though the organization is not nutrition- or health-based but solely conservation-focused. Seafood Watchs recommendations are quite restrictive, and if people actually followed them, much of what Americans eat would be off limits. This is problematic because they are already entirely too deficient in seafood. Research from Tulane University and Harvard Medical School shows caveated guidance like that of Seafood Watch is difficult for consumers to follow which results in reduced fish consumption.
Clearly, these kinds of articles arent harmless. Peer-reviewed research shows that risk-centric messaging … result[s] in an overall reduction in the potential health benefits derived from [omega-3] EPA + DHA.As noted by the World Health Organization (WHO)/Food Agriculture Organization (FAO): The real concern about fish is that people arent eating enough of it.
But its not impossible to write accurately about seafood. A Washington Post article, Eat more fish; risks overstated, emphasized that eating seafood was a healthy choice for families despite the presence of naturally occurring mercury in all seafood and exposed eNGOs for not ignoring seafoods essential nutrients in their fear-based, risk messages. . Parade magazine also reported the latest science, noting, omega-3s (in fish) may lower triglyceride levels by as much as 35 percent and that your best bet for DHA and EPA omega-3s is a rich food source like fatty fish.
The best advice on seafood is not complicated at all: Americans eat too little fish for good health and choosing wisely is as easy as eating a variety of choices 2 to 3 times a week. There really is no excuse for getting this simple fact wrong.