From fish to nuts – what is the real health food?

I get a lot of emails from people who don’t like to eat fish and others who are concerned about mercury in fish.

I can understand both.  When I was a kid, the fish we got here in Pennsylvania was anything but fresh and it did not leave a pleasant experience in my memory.

In the mercury, concern is real and no matter what the government says, I am personally not going to put any more mercury in my body than I need to!!!

No one has studied the long term effects of chronic mercury exposure except perhaps a handful of dentists who have been called quacks and charlatans.

So while the jury may still be out, I am erring on the side of simple caution and I think you should too.

I limit my fish intake and the types of fish I consume.  I avoid bottom feeders like cod, as studies have shown that one cod used for subsistence eating (in Alaska) contains enough mercury to be toxic.  Similarly, I don’t recommend cod liver oil unless of course it has gone through some very stringent purifications process as we use in our fish oil.

When people ask me what they should eat in addition, or if there are other sources of Omega 3’s, I point out that plant sources are not as useful to the human body and not always well converted. If you are coming to Costa Mesa to see me at the Longevity Now event, I will give some specific break-downs and recommendations about non-animal sources of Omega 3 fats.

I think the best other sources of plant Omega 3 and some non-essential Omega 9’s as well are walnuts and almonds.  Walnuts especially are low in fat and high in protein, so I occasionally snack on them.  Almonds are, in my opinion, tastier but also higher calories and sadly loaded with Omega 6 inflammatory fats.  Cashews are wonderful but loaded with fat calories!

Macadamias are not all that bad if you get them raw. (Hint: they do not taste anything like the ones in the “Mana Loa” can, which are fried in palm oil and heavily salted!).

Peanuts are nuts but legumes are in my opinion a pretty average food source.

Olive oil has consistently failed to come anywhere near fish oil in benefits, as has safflower, sunflower and other seed oils.  But you can get walnut oil, just be aware it has a fairly low flash point, so don’t cook it – just sauté or use at room temp on salads.

Again, these are not substations for Ultra Potent Fish Oil, but let’s face it… we all like real food from time to time and these make good snacks.


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