New York City Requires Restaurants to Freeze Raw Fish Before Serving – The New York Times

For years, many New York sushi restaurants have lured gourmands by boasting of the freshest fish in the city. But soon, those claims may call for an asterisk.

New regulations, published this week by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, require that fish served raw, undercooked or marinated raw in dishes like ceviche must first be frozen, to guard against parasites. In March, the Board of Health approved the regulations, which now align with Food and Drug Administration recommendations and are set to take effect in August.

That means that by the end of summer all fish used in sushi, sashimi, tartare and other popular raw dishes will make a pit stop in the freezer before they end up on diners’ plates.

Though some customers might blanch at the idea that their coveted crudo and sashimi — sometimes costing hundreds of dollars — emerged from a deep freeze, the truth is that many chefs in the city’s top restaurants have long used frozen fish to prevent serving their raw fare with a side of pathogens.

via New York City Requires Restaurants to Freeze Raw Fish Before Serving – The New York Times.

Ask Well: Wild Fish vs. Farmed Fish – NYTimes.com

I know eating farm-raised fish is not as healthy as eating wild-caught fish. But is eating farm-raised fish better than eating no fish at all? Also, how often is it advisable to eat farm-raised fish?

Experts have raised concerns about farm raised fish, which in some cases are raised on unnatural diets and crammed into small enclosures that can breed disease, prompting aquaculture operators to rely heavily on antibiotics.

But farming practices are improving, and consumers have a number of healthy and eco-friendly farmed options, said Tim Fitzgerald, a scientist and sustainable seafood expert at the Environmental Defense Fund. He said some merchants set high standards for the farmed salmon and other fish they sell, including the supermarket chains Wegmans and Whole Foods and the producer Verlasso.

A few of the farmed varieties that are produced responsibly are also relatively high in omega 3 fatty acids, the polyunsaturated fats that promote cardiovascular health. They include arctic char, rainbow trout and oysters, he says.

via Ask Well: Wild Fish vs. Farmed Fish – NYTimes.com.

6 High-Fat Foods You Should Be Eating

Fat is often associated with bad-for-you foods that can quickly sabotage any diet. Many dieters still flock to no-fat diets, opting to eat fat-free or reduced fat items. In fact, International Food Information Council data show that 67 percent of people try to eat as little fat as possible. However, if you’re part of that 67 percent, it’s time to make a change!

Contrary to popular belief, there are fatty foods that are actually good for us. Healthy fats keep us full longer, help reduce cravings for refined carbs and sugar, and can help with cell maintenance, repair, and healing, according to Shape. Additionally, healthy fats let fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants be absorbed through your digestive system into your bloodstream, and some can even help fight inflammation. Eating healthy fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) in moderation is crucial to your overall health. Ready to begin working healthy fats into your diet? Here are 6 fatty foods you should be eating.

1. Eggs

Inexpensive and a great source of protein, you can’t go wrong with eggs. Self writes that many people operate under the assumption that egg whites are the healthier option because they contain less fat than whole eggs. While technically true, you should also be eating the egg yolk, which is packed with key nutrients.

An egg contains 5 grams of fat, with only 1.5 of those grams being saturated, meaning the rest is good-for-you fats. Additionally, whole eggs also contain choline, which happens to be an important B vitamin your body needs in order to regulate your brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system, according to Self. The bottom line here: When you’re preparing your morning breakfast, don’t be afraid to eat the whole egg. It’s good for you!

Watch How This Expert Preps His BBQ.

Source: Thinkstock

2. Fish

Salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna are all fatty fish. But, WebMD writes that they’re good sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which deliver some pretty powerful health benefits. Omega-3 fatty acid is fat your body can’t make on its own, and may help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis.

How much of this fatty food should you be eating? According to WebMD, the American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish a week. Aim for each serving to be 3 ounces, relatively the size of a deck of cards. Baked, grilled, or poached, there are plenty of ways to prepare fish dishes. If you aren’t a huge fan of it, experiment with recipes to ensure you’re getting in your weekly dose of fatty acids. Your heart, brain, and joints will thank you.



Read more:  6 High-Fat Foods You Should Be Eating.

How to Reduce Your Mercury Exposure From Seafood – Consumer Reports

This site has a great calculator for you to see levels in different types of fish, per ounce. How to reduce your mercury exposure from seafood

Will eating grilled swordfish or tuna sushi expose you to too much mercury? Find out by using the Got Mercury? calculator, provided by Turtle Island Restoration Network. Just enter your body weight, along with the type and amount of fish or shellfish you’re considering eating for the week, and you’ll see how much you will be over or under the maximum acceptable dietary limit for mercury set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

What you find out may surprise you. Just one 6-ounce serving of swordfish would expose a 195-pound adult to more than two and a half times the safety limit for mercury. A 150-pound adult would get about three and half times the limit.

The FDA’s “avoid” list  for the most vulnerable groups such as young children currently includes swordfish, shark, King mackerel and Gulf tilefish,  but some fish that aren’t even on that list can pose significant overexposure risks. For instance, a child weighing 46 pounds (about the average weight for 5-year-olds in the U.S.) would get double the EPA limit for mercury in a 3-ounce serving of Chilean sea bass and more than triple that limit for a 5-ounce serving, both of which are within the weekly fish consumption amounts the FDA suggests for children under age 6.

To see how much mercury exposure you’d get from eating a mix of different types of seafood during the week, select the advanced mode option on the calculator. For example, a 150-pound woman who eats 4 ounces of bigeye tuna (also known as ahi, it’s often used in tuna sushi), 4 ounces of Chilean sea bass, and 4 ounces of halibut during the week would get a dose of mercury that is nearly triple the EPA limit. Simply by switching to sushi made with 4 ounces of salmon rather than tuna, and opting for 4-ounce servings of haddock and flounder instead of the sea bass and halibut, she would be at 29 percent of the maximum acceptable intake for mercury.

Consumer Reports has prepared a list of 20 low-mercury fish that consumers can eat frequently and still remain with safe mercury levels. You’ll find safer seafood choices in our special report “Can Eating the Wrong Fish Put You at Higher Risk for Mercury Exposure?

via How to Reduce Your Mercury Exposure From Seafood – Consumer Reports.

Relearning How to Eat Fish – NYTimes.com

On a recent weeklong cruise along the shores of southeast Alaska, the dining room menu included wild salmon, Dungeness crab and sablefish. Many of my fellow 63 passengers had neither heard of nor tasted sable.

No wonder: Almost all of this delectable, nutritious fish caught by Americans is exported, along with about one-third of all our wild catch. Instead, we dine on farmed seafood imported from countries like China, Thailand and Chile; 86 percent of the seafood we consume is imported.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of shrimp among Americans, none was served on the trip. A naturalist who lectured on board cautioned that almost all the shrimp reaching American tables is imported, half of it farmed in Asia — mostly under conditions that would ruin even the most voracious appetite.via Relearning How to Eat Fish – NYTimes.com.

Some good tips later in the article…

Stress-Busting Diet: 8 Foods That May Boost Resilience : The Salt : NPR

Eat more when you’re stressed? You’re not alone. More than a third of the participants in a national survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health said they change their diets during stressful times.And many of us are quick to turn to either sugary foods or highly refined carbohydrates such as bagels or white pasta when the stress hits.

“There can be a bit of a vicious cycle,” says David Ludwig, a professor of pediatrics and nutrition at Harvard University and a researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital. “When we feel stressed we seek foods that are going to comfort us immediately, but often times those foods lead to surges and crashes in hormones and blood sugar that increase our susceptibility to new stresses.”

Now, of course, we can’t control lots of the events and circumstances that lead to stress. But, Ludwig says, “our body chemistry can very much affect how that stress gets to us.”

Continue reading

Sorting Out the Risks of Fish – NYTimes.com

Sorting Out the Risks of Fish

By RONI CARYN RABIN

Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images

Fish is often called “brain food.” It’s an excellent source of lean protein, rich in nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and iodine, and pregnant women are encouraged to eat it. There’s just one, ah, catch: Fish also may have mercury, which can harm the developing brain.

Two advocacy organizations sued the Food and Drug Administration last week, demanding that the agency require canned and packaged fish to carry labels informing consumers of the mercury content, and that federal officials force grocery stores and fish markets to display information if they sell fish high in mercury.

The F.D.A. long ago put out information about mercury in seafood, but the groups say it should be at consumers’ fingertips when they’re shopping for dinner.

“People shouldn’t have to do detective work to get this information,” said Michael Bender, executive director of the Mercury Policy Project, one of the groups. Agency officials said they could not comment because of the continuing litigation.

But will labels on a can of tuna do more harm than good — scaring people away from eating fish altogether?

That’s the concern of fishing industry representatives, who note that consumption of fish and seafood dropped the last time the F.D.A. issued warnings about mercury. They argue that the benefits of eating fish are much greater than the possible harmful effects of mercury.

“When environmental activists suggest that consumers not eat a healthy protein like seafood, they’re doing more harm than good,” said Gavin Gibbons, a spokesman for the National Fisheries Institutes, a nonprofit organization backed by the fishing and seafood industry. “The benefits outweigh the risks.”

Many health experts are also cautious about the way they word their advice on the matter because they don’t want Americans to forgo the benefits of fish and seafood in favor of, say, bacon cheeseburgers.

Worries over mercury in seafood stretch back decades, confounding consumers who are told that fish and seafood are healthy, especially for the developing fetus, but hazardous in great amounts. New research has helped tease out the benefits and the harms.

Edward Groth III, an independent food safety consultant who prepared a report on the effects of mercury on fetal brain development for the Mercury Pilot Project, agreed that women of childbearing age shouldn’t just quit eating fish.

“If women are eating less fish because they’re confused, and there’s some evidence that’s the case, then we’re not getting the result we want,” he said. “The secret is to get women to eat more low-mercury fish.”

The debate has taken on added urgency because of new studies suggesting that mercury may cause subtle adverse effects at levels lower than those now considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency, even as they reaffirm the cognitive benefits to children whose mothers ate fish while pregnant.

Dr. Emily Oken and her colleagues at Harvard looked at the association between mothers’ fish intake and their infants’ cognitive scores at six months. The researchers found that the babies’ performance on visual recognition memory tests increased a significant four points with each additional weekly serving of fish that the mother ate while pregnant.

But the researchers also measured mercury levels in the mothers’ hair, and found that infants whose mothers had very high levels of mercury scored lower than the others, for a drop of 7.5 points for every one part per million increase in mercury.

The bottom line: The babies who scored highest were those whose mothers were among the top fish and seafood consumers, eating it at least twice a week, but who also had lower mercury levels.

via Sorting Out the Risks of Fish – NYTimes.com.

Could a diet high in fish and flax help prevent broken hips?

Could a diet high in fish and flax help prevent broken hips?.

Could a Diet High in Fish and Flax Help Prevent Broken Hips?

June 27, 2013 — Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood may reduce the risk for hip fractures in postmenopausal women, recent research suggests.

 

Scientists analyzed red blood cell samples from women with and without a history of having a broken hip. The study showed that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids from both plant and fish sources in those blood cells were associated with a lower likelihood of having fractured a hip.

In addition to omega-3s, the researchers looked at omega-6 fatty acids, which are generally plentiful in a Western diet. The study also showed that as the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3s increased, so did the risk for hip fracture.

Though the study did not define the mechanisms for these relationships, the researchers hypothesized that inflammation may contribute to bone resorption, the breaking down of bone caused by the release of cells called osteoclasts.

“Inflammation is associated with an increased risk of bone loss and fractures, and omega-3 fatty acids are believed to reduce inflammation. So we asked if we would see fractures decrease in response to omega-3 intake,” said Rebecca Jackson, the study’s senior author and a professor of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at The Ohio State University.

“One thing that was critically important was that we didn’t use self-report of food intake, because there can be errors with that. We looked directly at the exposure of the bone cell to the fatty acids, which is at the red blood cell level,” said Jackson, also associate dean for clinical research in Ohio State’s College of Medicine. “Red blood cell levels also give an indication of long-term exposure to these fatty acids, which we took into account in looking for a preventive effect.”

Broken hips are the most common osteoporosis-related fractures, with an estimated 350,000 occurring annually in the United States. About 20 percent of people die in the year following a hip fracture.

The research is published in a recent issue of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.

The observational study did not measure cause and effect, so the researchers say the findings are not definitive enough to suggest that taking omega-3 supplements would prevent hip fractures in postmenopausal women.

“We don’t yet know whether omega-3 supplementation would affect results for bone health or other outcomes,” said Tonya Orchard, assistant professor of human nutrition at Ohio State and first author of the study. “Though it’s premature to make a nutrition recommendation based on this work, I do think this study adds a little more strength to current recommendations to include more omega-3s in the diet in the form of fish, and suggests that plant sources of omega-3 may be just as important for preventing hip fractures in women.”

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are both polyunsaturated fatty acids and essential fatty acids, meaning they contribute to biological processes but must be consumed because the body does not produce them on its own. Previous research has suggested that while both types of fatty acids are linked to health benefits, omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and omega-6 fatty acids seem to have both anti- and pro-inflammatory effects.

The researchers used blood samples and hip fracture records from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a large national prospective study of postmenopausal women that enrolled participants between 1993 and 1998 and followed them for 15 years. For this new work, the sample consisted of red blood cell samples and records from 324 pairs of WHI participants, half of whom had broken their hips before Aug. 15, 2008, and the other half composed of age-matched controls who had never broken a hip.

The analysis showed that higher levels of total omega-3 fatty acids and two other specific kinds of omega-3s alone were associated with a lower risk of hip breaks in the study sample.

On the other hand, women who had the highest ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids had nearly twice the risk of hip fractures compared to women with the lowest ratios. The current typical American diet contains between 15 and 17 times more omega-6 than omega-3, a ratio that previous research has suggested should be lowered to 4-to-1, or even 2-to-1, by increasing omega-3s, to improve overall health. The primary omega-6 fatty acid in the diet is linoleic acid, which composes about 99 percent of Americans’ omega-6 intake and is found in corn, soybean, safflower and sunflower oils.

The specific omega-3 sources associated with lower risk for broken hips were ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which comes from plant sources such as flaxseed oil and some nuts, and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which is found in fatty types of fish. The other marine-sourced omega-3, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), on its own did not have a significant link to lower hip-fracture risk, “but all three omega-3s were in the protective direction,” Orchard said.

Jackson, who was a vice chair of the WHI for more than a decade, said continuing analyses of data from the WHI will dig down to the genetic influences on metabolism and absorption of nutrients, and whether such genetic differences could affect health risk factors in postmenopausal women.

This work was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The WHI was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Co-authors include Steven Ing of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism; Bo Lu of the Division of Biostatistics; and Martha Belury of the Department of Human Nutrition, all at Ohio State; as well as Karen Johnson of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Jean Wactawski-Wende of the State University of New York, Buffalo.

Eat Fish And Prosper? : The Salt : NPR

by AUDREY CARLSEN

We’ve all heard that eating fish is good for us. Regularly eating fish has been linked to a host of health benefits – for our hearts, our eyes, and our brains.

Now here’s some more good news: A study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests that eating oily fish once or twice a week could maybe – just maybe — add a few years to your life.

Oily fish like salmon, trout and herring are, of course, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to numerous bodily functions. Researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Washington wanted to know how eating fish high in omega-3s affected health. So over the course of 16 years, they monitored a group of almost 2,700 healthy adults aged 65 years or older.

But unlike most studies that have looked at the question, the researchers didn’t want to rely on study subjects to accurately recall what they ate, so they measured blood levels of omega-3s instead. And since they were interested in dietary intake only, they excluded participants who took fish oil supplements.

After controlling for factors like age, sex and lifestyle, the researchers found that, on average, adults with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids lived 2.2 years longer. In particular, these adults had a 35 percent lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease – which is in line with other studies that have tied omega-3s to cardiovascular benefits.

Higher levels of fatty acids were most strongly associated with decreased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.

“Omega-3 fatty acids are very unique in that, at very small levels in the diet, they have pretty powerful effects on a range of body functions,” says Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, lead author of the study.

According to Mozaffarian, the main reason why omega-3s are important is because of their role in building cell membranes. “Our cell membranes are 95 percent fat,” he explains. “If we didn’t have fatty acids, we wouldn’t have cells.”

Omega-3s can stabilize the function of heart cells, says Mozaffarian. They can also alter the way that cells interact with each other and even affect gene function.

Because the study was not a randomized trial, the findings don’t actually prove that higher levels of omega-3s are responsible for the observed health benefits. “There still could be … some mysterious factor that is unknown,” Mozaffarian acknowledges.

Nevertheless, Mozaffarian recommends that people, especially those over 65, make an effort to include fish in their diets. “You get the most bang for your buck” by eating one to two servings of fatty fish per week, he says.

However, consuming more than two servings of fish per week doesn’t appear to increase blood levels of omega-3s much further. This means that, as long as you eat fish regularly, it’s probably unnecessary to take additional fish oil supplements, says Mozaffarian.

via Eat Fish And Prosper? : The Salt : NPR.

Food Safety: Mercury in Fish | Women’s Health News Blog: Latest Health Headlines and Tips to Stay Healthy

No don’t stop eating fish…. But be careful!

Should You Stop Eating Fish?

Eighty-four percent of fish contain unsafe levels of mercury, according to a new study

Posted on January 24, 2013 by Alexandra Duron, Women’s Health Online Editorial Assistant

You might want to think twice about feasting on seafood. A whopping 84 percent of fish samples taken from around the world contain unsafe levels of mercury, according to a new report from the Biodiversity Research Institute and the International Persistent Organic Pollutants Elimination Network. It isn’t safe to eat fish with such high levels of mercury more than once a month, according to the findings.

And that’s not all. Researchers also took hair samples from 152 people from around the world. What they found: More than 82 percent contained mercury levels greater than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended level. Translation: People are exposed to more mercury than is good for them.

So what’s the big deal? Consuming mercury can affect your nervous system and your brain, and this can be especially dangerous for children and women who are pregnant, according to Lisa Moskovitz, RD, CDN, CPT, owner of Manhattan-based practice Your New York Dietician. “Mercury acts like a neurotoxin which, even in low doses, can impair a baby’s development and cognitive function. In some cases it can lead to mental retardation, cerebral palsy, and loss of sight and hearing,” she says. “In non-pregnant adults, mercury affects fertility, blood pressure, memory, and eyesight.”

Pretty scary stuff, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to cut fish out of your diet altogether. “Because fish is an important nutrient source, it’s more about being smart with what you are eating vs. avoiding eating fish,” says David Evers, PhD, chief scientist of the Biodiversity Research Institute who specializes in research on ecotoxicology. He suggests consulting your doctor and checking out the EPA’s recommendations to lower your risk.

Here, excerpted from the EPA’s website, three guidelines for reducing your exposure to mercury found in fish:

1. Do not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.

2. Eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury.

Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

Another commonly eaten fish, albacore (“white”) tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.

3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don’t consume any other fish during that week.

via Food Safety: Mercury in Fish | Women’s Health News Blog: Latest Health Headlines and Tips to Stay Healthy.