Unfortunately the community largely believes that fish and fish oil supplements are healthy and necessary for good brain function. Unfortunately there has been a large marketing campaign encouraging parents to give fish oil to infants and children. Lets take a look at fish and fish oil to see if it lives up to its health food hype..
Fish is high in fat – often 60% of the calories come from fat. There is considerable evidence that fish fat (omega-3 fat) will increase a person’s risk of cancer and also will increase the risk of metastasis (spread of cancer to other parts of the body).
Fish fat is known to paralyze the actions of insulin and increase the tendency for high blood sugars and eventually diabetes, known to suppress the immune system, and known to increase the tendency for serious bleeding.
Fish is High in Cholesterol: Like all animal products, fish are high in cholesterol. Based upon a weight of 100 grams, mackerel contains 95 mg of cholesterol, haddock 65 mg, tuna 63 mg, and halibut 50 mg. This compares to beef at 70 mg, chicken 60 mg, and pork at 70 mg.
Fish Protein: Dr McDougall points out that fish is high in animal protein which is acidic in nature. The high acid load caused by the ingestion of fish may result in bone loss, which eventually leads to osteoporosis. For a more in-depth explanation please visit for Dr McDougall’s referenced insights: www.nealhendrickson.com/mcdougall/030200pufishisnothealthfood.htm
Fish Oil Causes More Heart Attacks: Dr David Jenkins Professor of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, Canada and Director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre at St Michael’s Hospital has published over 200 papers on lipids and diet and won many international awards. He states that the 1990’s studies of fish oil were not followed up properly. Initial studies thought that fish oil could help stop the closing of artery walls and therefore prevent coronary heart disease. Follow up studies have since been done and found that after 5 years those who took fish oil had more heart attacks. Cardwell Esselstyn MD, a former surgeon at the Cleveland clinic in the USA demonstrated through a 20 year study that changing to a vegan diet can effectively prevent and reverse heart disease.
Fish contamination: Fish contain mercury which is toxic to the nervous system and kidneys. Long-term exposure may also accelerate the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Fish can be a major source of mercury in a very toxic form called methyl mercury. Fish contain PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) which are cancer causing and magnify the neurotoxic affects of mercury. Fish contain dioxins which cause disruption to the endocrine system (hormonal system), nervous system, and reproductive system.
Dioxins are at very high levels in many species of fish, and frequently the species of fish that are low in mercury. So if you manage to avoid the high mercury from contaminated fish, chances are that you will still ingest a significant amount of PCBs.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in 2000 showed that among pregnant Danish women who consumed fatty fish, those with the highest intake had 50% higher levels of PCBs in their blood plasma compared to those with the lowest intake. Production of PCBs is now banned in Japan, the United Kingdom and other countries. The study also found that the higher the amount of fatty fish eaten, the lower the birth weight of the infant.
Infectious Agents - In the USA, seafood ranked third on the list of products which caused food-borne disease between 1983 and 1992.
How To Get Healthy Omega 3 In Your Diet From Veggie Sources:
Flaxseed/linseeds, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, seaweeds, chia seeds, hempseed oil, pumpkin seeds and walnuts contain short chain omega 3 can be converted to EPA, then DHA.
If you wish to take supplements containing EPA and DHA pre-formed, there are EPA/DHA capsules produced from algae/seaweed! In fact, seaweed is where fish obtain these fatty acids themselves. Seaweed is also a sustainable way of producing these fatty acids without the toxins associated with fish oil. Fish oil you can easily be substituted with these greener alternatives.
Eve Nguyen, ND is a degree-qualified Naturopath, CPAP therapist and K.L stretch teacher with over 10 years experience in the field of health and Nutrition. In addition to teaching nutrition and cooking classes, Eve was chosen to be a Fairfield City Green Champion in 2010. As a vegan with a particular interest in environmental impacts on our health, Eve enjoys delivering information/ presentations to help people realise the link between the state of the environment and their own health.
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia Licence