Fish is not a health food

| Post published on June 2, 2006
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In the last issue of Veggiehealth we explained why fish oils are not the best source of omega-3 fats. A major new study published in the British Medical Journal supports this view. The team, led by Dr Lee Hooper of the University of East Anglia, found little evidence that eating fish or taking fish oil capsules, cuts the risk of dying of heart disease, stroke or cancer. This review suggests that pollutants in fish (mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls), may cancel out the beneficial effects of the ‘good’ omega-3 fats they contain. One study revealed that men advised to take fish oil capsules had a higher risk of dying from a heart attack. Fish is not a popular food; on average people in the UK eat a third of a portion of oily fish per week with seven out of ten people consuming none whatsoever. It’s time we turned our attention to good plant-based sources of omega-3 fats such as flax seed (linseed) oil, walnuts and green leafy vegetables.

Hooper L, Thompson RL, Harrison RA, Summerbell CD, Ness AR, Moore HJ, Worthington HV, Durrington PN, Higgins JP, Capps NE, Riemersma RA, Ebrahim SB and Davey Smith G. 2006. Risks and benefits of omega 3 fats for mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review. British Medical Journal. 332 (7544) 752-760.

About the author
Dr. Justine Butler
I joined Viva! as a health campaigner in 2005 after graduating from Bristol University with a PhD in molecular biology. My scientific training helped me research and write numerous reports, guides and fact sheets for Viva! including Meat the Truth, Fish-Free for Life, One in Nine (breast cancer and diet) and the substantial report on the detrimental health effects of consuming dairy; White Lies. This accompanied Viva!’s report The Dark Side of Dairy which spelt out the inherent cruelty of dairy farming. We were the first UK group to take on the dairy industry in this way, and many of our supporters go vegan after reading these reports.

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