How to live longer: A certain size of fish could have ‘toxic effects’ on your health

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A diet plays a crucial part in your overall health as well as longevity. While some foods may hamper your health, others can boost it. Fish could be a great addition to a healthy diet with its high content of healthy fatty acids. However, eating bigger fish could also leave you with more mercury in your body.

Bigger fish, including bigeye tuna and swordfish, tend to contain more mercury, which is a naturally occurring element in air, water and soil.

However, smaller fish like salmon, sardines and shrimp pack less of this problematic element.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that exposure to even small amounts of mercury could lead to “serious” health problems.

It poses a threat to the development of a child in the uterus but it also poses “toxic effects” for others.

The WHO explains: “Mercury may have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, and on lungs, kidneys, skin and eyes.”

Considered “a major” public health concern, mercury can be “toxic” to your central and peripheral nervous systems.

Inhaling mercury vapour could lead to harmful effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, lungs and kidneys, with the WHO warning it might even be “fatal”.

“The inorganic salts of mercury are corrosive to the skin, eyes and gastrointestinal tract, and may induce kidney toxicity if ingested,” it adds.

From tremors to memory loss, the element can stir up various neurological and behavioural problems.

While mercury can be harmful to your health, the Mayo Clinic shares that the benefits of eating fish usually outweigh the possible risks. So, don’t go ditching the food altogether.

The reason why fish can be so good for you it’s the meat’s omega 3 content.

Eating at least two servings of fish weekly could cut your risk of heart disease.

Heart disease is a major threat to longevity, with the condition claiming more than 160,000 lives each year.

That’s why health bodies, such as the American Heart Association, recommend eating fish rich in unsaturated fats at least twice a week.

The unsaturated fats are the goodies known as omega-3 fatty acids.

“Omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients in fish may benefit heart health and reduce the risk of dying of heart disease,” the Mayo Clinic explains.

The NHS notes that the likes of tuna, shark, swordfish and marlin contain higher amounts of mercury.

So, bigger fish seem to be higher in this element. Some theories suggest this might be caused by bigger fish eating smaller fish or their longer lifespan leading to longer exposure.

However, the health service advises eating at least two portions of fish a week.

As a part of a healthy balanced diet, you should make one of these portions an oily fish as they are the richest source of omega 3s – think salmon, herring and sardines.

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