Eating Fish Low in The Food Chain Beneficial to Health and Environment

In Education

Shifting from beef to poultry or seafood can be a wise decision for the health and the environment. Fish and chicken are associated with lower risks of chronic diseases, require fewer resources, and generate fewer greenhouse gas emissions than beef.

Small fish consumption has both health and environmental benefits.

Opting for small fish and bivalves like herring, sardines, clams, and oysters can further enhance the health and environmental benefits. Harvard assistant professor of Nutrition and planetary health, Christopher Golden, recommends replacing terrestrial food sources such as red meat with seafood sources. He recommends choosing aquatic food sources such as mackerel or sardines over farmed salmon or canned tuna.

Herring, sardines, anchovies, and mackerel are good sources of micronutrients like zinc, vitamin B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids and proteins, which may ease inflammation in the body and promote a balance of blood lipids. Since people often eat whole fish, including bones, small fish are rich in vitamin D and calcium, except for mackerel, whose bones are tough, but canned mackerel bones are okay to eat.

Small fish are eco-friendly and don’t contain toxins

It is important to note that small fish are unlikely to contain contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyls and mercury found in large species like swordfish and tuna, which, alongside other large fish that feed on smaller fish, lead to the concentration of toxins.

Consuming small fish directly is a more eco-friendly option compared to processing them into fish meals. Fish meal is frequently used to feed farmed salmon, pork, and poultry. The feed for these animals includes grains requiring water, land, energy, and pesticides for production, similar to the grain fed to cattle, according to Golden. Nonetheless, the positive development is that the employment of fish meals in salmon farming is declining. In addition, some corporations have designed highly nourishing feeds that do not necessitate the use of the fish meal.

Golden says the Mediterranean diet emphasizes small fish such as anchovies and fresh sardines. He says that the canned versions of the fish are easily available and a good option.

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