Essential fatty acids are an important part of a well balanced diet, especially if you're trying to lose weight. What is surprising is that many people don't know fat is essential to maintaining normal weight as well as many other health benefits. Our country has fallen in love with "low fat"... and in part, it's making many people fat. If your body senses a lack of fat intake, it starts storing it... and surprise, surprise, you stay fat!
Fish is routinely recommended by many as a great source of EFA's although there's one small problem.
"...nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury."
FDA / EPA What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish
"Children under age 5, nursing mothers and women who are pregnant or trying to conceive should avoid fish with the highest mercury levels -- tile fish, swordfish, king mackerel and shark. They should also limit their fish intake to no more than 12 ounces a week of fish and shellfish that contain low levels of mercury, foods such as shrimp, salmon, pollock, canned light tuna and catfish.
Albacore tuna is higher in mercury than canned light tuna, so consumption of albacore tuna should be limited to nor more than six ounces a week, the experts write.
Eating a variety of fish may reduce the potential negative effects of environmental pollutants. Try to avoid farm-raised fish, which tend to have more fat and calories and slightly less protein than wild fish. Farm-fed fish may also contain higher levels of contaminants due to toxins in their feed, according to the experts."
Why is mercury bad? Well, for many reasons, and the report above, directly from the FDA plays down the effects on everyone except for young children, and pregnant and nursing women. Unfortunately it's a little more serious than that:
"Canadian scientists studying the toxic effects of mercury have made a major breakthrough, showing for the first time how the metal that gave rise to the expression 'mad as a hatter' actually debilitates and destroys parts of nerve cells.
The finding, announced yesterday, is likely to raise further controversy over exposure to mercury in dental fillings and food, and provide new clues to the development of Alzheimer's disease.
Three scientists at the University of Calgary exposed the brain cells of snails to small amounts of mercury and found the damage caused by the silvery-grey metal was similar to that seen in brains of humans suffering from Alzheimer's.
The protein in snail brain cells is identical to that in the nerves of human and other higher animals.
One of the co-authors of the paper, Dr. Fritz Lorscheider of the university's faculty of medicine, said the research highlights the need to reduce public exposure to mercury. The experiments used mercury levels that are typically found in people who have a large number of amalgam fillings.
"What it really means is that we . . . need to be far more concerned about sources of mercury exposure,' Dr. Lorscheider said.
A paper outlining the findings is being published as the cover story in the April issue of the British journal NeuroReport.
Almost everyone in North America is exposed to trace amounts of mercury. Fillings emit mercury vapour when people chew. Mercury concentrations have been rising in many seafoods, as fish absorb metal dispersed by coal-burning power plants and mining.
Until now, scientists have known that mercury is a potent nerve poison, causing tremors, loss of memory, insomnia, depression and personality changes, but they did not understand how."
Scientists unlock mystery of mercury's harmful effects
I don't know about you, but would you knowingly eat a poison that could cause tremors, loss of memory, depression and countless other effects. Would you feed it to your children? Especially if you had options? Since you can get EFA's from many other sources, why risk your health and the health of your children? Is it worth it?
To me, another reason for the vegan diet... for your health and your life.