Dr. David Brownstein,  editor of Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health newsletter, is a board-certified family physician and one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success with natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice. His books include Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do!; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Salt Your Way To Health; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Overcoming Arthritis, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; and The Guide to Healthy Eating. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Mich., where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their teenage daughters, Hailey and Jessica.

Tags: wild-caught fish | health benefits of wild-caught fish | omega-3 fatty acids | salmon | farm-raised fish | Dr. David Brownstein

Ask for Wild-Caught Fish

Monday, 20 August 2012 09:13 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Question: Is there a difference in health benefits derived from eating wild-caught fish versus eating farm-raised fish?

Dr. Brownstein's Answer:

Fish has long been touted as a healthy food, mostly because it contains omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3 fatty acids prevent blood clots, can function as an antidepressant, reduce triglycerides, and decrease the risk of developing hypertension and coronary artery disease, research shows.

Fish oils can be obtained either by eating fish or taking supplements. Supplements of fish oils can be beneficial, but taking too many fish oil pills can have detrimental effects. For instance, excess fish oil can promote bleeding and elevated glucose levels. Although the research is not clear that fish oil supplementation raises glucose levels, my experience has shown that patients who take too many fish oil supplements may have increased blood sugar levels.

Fish can either be farm raised or wild caught. Farm-raised fish has become more common in recent years. However, the best way to get omega-3 fatty acids is to eat wild-caught fish.

What is wrong with farm-raised fish? A lot. First of all, farm-raised fish has been found to be contaminated with PCBs and other chemicals. Recently, the Environmental Working Group purchased farm-raised salmon from 10 grocery stores across the United States. The scientists found that 70 percent of the samples they gathered were contaminated with PCBs at levels that raise serious health issues.

On the other hand, the levels of PCBs in wild-caught Alaskan and Canadian salmon were much lower. Farm-raised salmon had 16 times more PCBs than wild salmon and 3.4 times more than is found in other seafood. The Environmental Working Group reported, “In total, these studies support the conclusion that American consumers nationwide are exposed to elevated PCB levels by eating farmed salmon.”

Farm-raised fish can also be contaminated with sea lice. In addition, they are often given high levels of antibiotics to prevent infection and increase their size.

What most people don’t know is that the normal color of farm-raised salmon is gray. To combat this, the industry feeds them dyes to give the fish a more pleasant pinkish color.

Another problem with farm-raised fish is its fatty acid content. Compared to wild-caught fish, farm-raised fish have much higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratios.

Farm-raised fish, such as Atlantic farmed-raised salmon, should be avoided. It is not a healthy food choice.

Whenever I am at a restaurant, I ask if the fish is farm raised. If it is, I do not order it.

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Eating fish that is wild caught gets you beneficial omega-3 fatty acids while helping you avoid excessive amounts of antibiotics and PCBs.
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Monday, 20 August 2012 09:13 AM
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