Good Reasons to Have a Cuppa with your Fish Dinner

Are you concerned about getting mercury poisoning from eating fish?

I just heard about some interesting research on a positive relationship between eating fish and drinking tea. Research indicates that drinking tea (black or green), while you eat fish that may contain mercury,  may positively inhibit the absorption of mercury. Adding slices of lemon to the fish (and/or the tea) and enhances the bioavailability of the healthy benefits of tea!


Here is the abstract:
Impact of phytochemical-rich foods on bioaccessibility of mercury from fish, Food Chemistry, Volume 112, Issue 1, 1 January 2009, Pages 46-50Soon-Mi Shim, Mario G. Ferruzzi, Young-Cheul Kim, Elsa M. Janle, Charles R. Santerre
The effects of phytochemical-rich foods on bioaccessibility of mercury in fish tissue (the amount of mercury that is released from fish into gastrointestinal tract fluid following a simulated digestion) were investigated using an in vitro digestion. Total mercury in the aqueous phase following a simulated digestion of fish with added food treatments was used to measure mercury bioaccessibility. Green tea extract (31–2000 mg), black tea extract (31–2000 mg), and soy protein (50–100 mg) significantly reduced mercury bioaccessibility by 82–92%, 88–91%, and 44–87%, respectively. Grapefruit juice (0.5–10 ml) did not reduce mercury in the aqueous phase. Wheat bran (50–1000 mg) decreased mercury bioaccessibility (84%); oat bran and psyllium reduced bioaccessibility (by 59–75%, 15–31%, respectively) at amounts greater than 500 mg. We therefore suggest that co-consumption of foods containing phytochemicals at the same time as fish that contains mercury may potentially reduce mercury absorption compared to eating fish alone.

Why is Eating Fish Good For You?

Researchers at Harvard University analyzed the benefits and risks of eating fish, a potential source of mercury and dioxin contamination. They calculated that eating one to two fish meals per week, especially fish high in omega-3 fats, reduced the risk of death from heart disease by 36 percent and death from other causes by 17 percent. The researchers wrote that women of childbearing age and nursing mothers should consume two seafood meals per week, but limit their consumption of high-mercury fish, such as shark, king mackerel, swordfish, and golden bass. The higher the fish is on the ocean’s food chain the more mercury they may contain.

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), one of the omega-3s, is important in the development of fetal and infant brains. The researchers noted that consuming 250 mg daily of DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) may be sufficient for heart protection. They concluded that, “for major health outcomes among adults…the benefits of fish intake exceed the potential risks. For women of childbearing age, benefits of modest fish intake, except for a few selected species, also outweigh risks.”

Why is mercury a health concern?

Mercury is so highly toxic that it causes severe neurological disorders. It can also result in the loss of hair, teeth and nails as well as muscle weakness, loss of kidney function, emotional mood swings and memory impairment.