Pregnant or breastfeeding women urged to eat more fish

Tue, Jun 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Pregnant or breast-feeding women should increase their weekly consumption of fish, as long as it’s lower in mercury, according to new advice from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The two agencies now recommend that women eat at least 8 ounces and up to 12 ounces per week of low-mercury fish, to support fetal growth and development. That equates to two or three servings.

Young children and women who might become pregnant should also try to eat a similar amount of fish every week, the agencies said in a newly released draft of updated nutritional advice.

The nutritional benefits of fish outweigh concerns about mercury, the agencies have concluded.

“For years many women have limited or avoided eating fish during pregnancy or feeding fish to their young children,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA’s acting chief scientist. “But emerging science now tells us that limiting or avoiding fish during pregnancy and early childhood can mean missing out on important nutrients that can have a positive impact on growth and development as well as on general health.”

Previously, the FDA and the EPA recommended maximum amounts of fish that these groups of people should consume, but did not promote a minimum amount. Over the past decade, however, emerging science has underscored the importance of appropriate amounts of fish in the diets of pregnant and breast-feeding women and young children, the agencies said.

Fish contains important nutrients for developing fetuses, infants who are breast-fed and young children, according to the FDA.

The FDA calls fish and shellfish an important part of a healthy diet, because they contain high-quality protein and other needed nutrients, are low in saturated fat, and contain omega-3 fatty acids. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can boost heart health and children’s proper growth and development.

But, virtually all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. For most people, the risk from mercury isn’t a worry. However, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or a young child’s developing nervous system. The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend on the amount of fish and shellfish eaten and the levels of mercury in the fish and shellfish, according to the FDA.

The FDA and CDC caution pregnant or breast-feeding women to avoid four types of fish associated with high mercury levels. They are shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish caught in the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, consumption of albacore tuna should be limited to 6 ounces a week.

Recommended lower-mercury fish include shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod, the agencies said.

When eating fish caught from local streams, rivers and lakes, follow fish advisories from local authorities. If such advice isn’t available, total intake should be limited to 6 ounces a week for adults and 1 to 3 ounces for children, the federal officials said.

An FDA analysis of seafood consumption data from more than 1,000 pregnant women found that 21 percent ate no fish in the previous month. Those who did eat fish consumed far less than that recommended by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, with 50 percent eating fewer than 2 ounces a week, and 75 percent eating fewer than 4 ounces a week.

The agencies will consider public comments before making final the proposed changes to dietary advice.

Dr. Ashley Roman is an obstetrician/gynecologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. She said: “Seafood consumption during pregnancy (and what types of fish and seafood to eat) has been an area of much confusion for pregnant women. This new advice helps to emphasize the important health benefits women can gain from including seafood in their diet during pregnancy — both for themselves and their developing fetus.”

Katherine Farrell Harris, director of integrated nutrition for Advantage Care Physicians in New York City, said: “Most women know that it is important to consume enough omega-3 fatty acids during pregnancy for optimal brain development. While most women know they should consume fish, they may be unsure of the safest types that are low in potentially harmful mercury and PCBs from ocean pollution.”

— Dennis Thompson

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved

Important to eat fish both during and after pregnancy

It is suggested that consuming more foods that are high in omega-3s, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), is beneficial to health, even when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Cold water fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, are the richest sources of EPA and DHA. These omega-3s may potentially reduce the risk of premature delivery and improve brain and vision development in the baby. Studies have also shown that higher consumption of omega-3s may reduce the risk of allergies in infants and lower the mother’s risk for depression. Omega-3s are also used after birth to make breast milk.

Nearly all Americans get plenty of fat in their diet, but most do not get enough omega-3 fats. Our friends at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology remind us that women who are pregnant should eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish and seafood a week to help get an adequate amount of EPA and DHA for their babies. However, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans states the mean intake of seafood in the United States is approximately 3.5 ounces per week; pregnant women eating barely 2 ounces.

Women often shy away from fish during pregnancy due to concerns about contaminants, especially mercury. Recent information released in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine says that no one should cut fish out of their diet altogether as it contains too many healthy nutrients essential for growth and development.

Bridget Swinney, MS, RD, author of “Eating Expectantly: Practical Advice for Healthy Eating Before, During and After Pregnancy,” says to eat fish. “There is so much misinformation about eating fish during pregnancy. There are plenty of low-mercury, low-contaminant fish to choose from and the consensus from scientists is that the benefits of eating 12 ounces a week of low contaminant fish outweigh risks.”

Be sure to avoid shark, mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish – but check out useful tips from the American Pregnancy Association (, as well as Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (, to help you feel more at ease about incorporating more EPA and DHA in your diet. Knowledge is power, adds Swinney. “The more you know, the better you and your baby will eat.”

Erika Ritcher is a dietetic intern at Boone County Extension Office.

Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids from Fish in Type 2 Diabetes

By Joyce A. Nettleton, DSc, RD

This year, one million people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with diabetes. Already, nine of every 100 people over the age of 20 have the disease or its early warning signs. There are now 50% more people with the disease than there were 10 years ago. As one gets older, type 2 diabetes is more likely if one is overweight or has high blood pressure (hypertension), elevated blood lipids, and a sedentary lifestyle. With 17 million people having diabetes, better prevention and treatment are urgently needed. New evidence indicates that the oils in fat-rich fish may help combat this scourge.

Fasting Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes is a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism in which blood sugar levels are above normal.

Normal < 110 mg/dL*
Above > 110 mg/dL and
normal < 126 mg/dL
Provisional Diabetes ³ 126 mg/dL

*d/L or deciliter = 100 ml

What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Diabetes is a disease of carbohydrate metabolism whose hallmark is high blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes reflects lack of insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar. Type 1 diabetes is excluded from this discussion. In type 2 diabetes, which is much more common than type 1, insulin is present, but it functions improperly. As a result, blood sugar levels rise. Common symptoms of diabetes are frequent urination, frequent thirst, and weight loss. However, warning signs may occur before the disease is diagnosed. Blood sugar levels used to diagnose diabetes are shown in the box.

High blood sugar reflects insulin resistance. This means the hormone insulin is less effective in assisting the uptake of sugar and fatty acids into tissues. As a result both sugar and fatty acid levels in blood rise. To compensate, the pancreas makes more insulin in an effort to clear the blood sugar. The liver takes up the fatty acids and returns them to the blood as fat hitched to proteins. These are measured clinically as VLDL lipoproteins. In diabetes, VLDL levels are markedly increased, thereby increasing the likelihood of heart disease. As diabetes progresses, the pancreas loses its ability to produce insulin. This leads to deterioration in other tissues and the development of circulatory problems, hypertension, kidney disease, impaired regulation of blood clotting, retinopathy, and above all heart disease. Treatment with drugs, diet, weight loss, and exercise can retard and possibly halt this chain of events.

Preventing and Treating Diabetes
People with diabetes are 6 times more likely to suffer a first heart attack and 3 to 8 times more likely to die from heart disease than those without the disease. For this reason, diabetes treatment focuses on managing glucose and insulin levels and preventing heart disease.

Many drugs are highly effective when used to reduce blood sugar, improve insulin action, lower blood pressure and lipids, and improve circulation. Some medications, such as ACE inhibitors used to lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease more than occurs just by lowering blood pressure. Diet can sometimes boost the effectiveness of medications and reduce the dosage required. Taking your lifestyle in hand can be even more helpful. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine, in February 2002, examined diabetes prevention in people at risk for diabetes by comparing lifestyle change with a glucose-lowering drug. Both groups were compared to subjects given a “dummy” pill. After nearly 3 years, people who altered their lifestyle without medication had 58% fewer diabetics. Those on the sugar-lowering drug had 31% fewer. Adopting a healthy lifestyle can make a huge difference! Here is what works:

Lifestyle intervention means weight loss, regular exercise, and healthful eating habits. Weight loss deserves high priority because 80% of people with diabetes are overweight or have abdominal obesity. Losing weight reduces the chance of developing diabetes, slows its progression, and improves glucose control. Other benefits of weight loss are reduced blood pressure, improved blood lipids, and lower chance of heart arrhythmias. The more weight you lose, the better. Even modest weight loss – short of reaching your ideal weight – brings substantial improvement.

Regular exercise counteracts many of the detrimental effects of insulin resistance. It improves glucose control and blood lipid levels, increases blood flow and vascular function, boosts fitness, reduces risk of heart disease, and can ease weight loss. As a bonus, you feel better! There is some controversy about how much, how long, and how often to exercise. Thirty to 60 minute sessions of modest intensity exercise 3-4 times a week is a good start. Intensity should be increased gradually. Caution: everyone’s health condition and risk differs, so if you have diabetes or heart disease, have your physician determine the appropriate level, type, and frequency of exercise.

Diet modification is a frontline strategy for controlling diabetes. Traditionally, the diabetic diet emphasized sugar restriction. Modern dietary recommendations recognize that the total amount of carbohydrate is more important than the type of carbohydrate. Diets very low in carbohydrates tend to be high in fat and therefore associated with weight gain and heart disease. Choosing foods by their glycemic index, a measure of their ability to produce a sharp rise in blood glucose, is controversial and an unreliable guide to meal planning. The key is moderate carbohydrate intake from whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. These foods generally have the lowest glycemic index.

Many scientists put limiting saturated fat intake at the top of the list because these fats are strongly linked with heart disease. Foods high in saturated fats include dairy fats – butter, most cheese, and whole milk – most animal fats, hard margarines, shortening, and coconut and palm oils. Trans fatty acids also aid the development of heart disease. Trans fatty acids occur in the manufacture of solid fats such as margarine and shortening. Many commercial and restaurant-prepared fried and baked foods have high proportions of saturated and trans fatty acids. Restricting the consumption of saturated and trans fats improves blood lipid levels and may slow the progression of diabetes.

Diabetes occurs more frequently in people who eat the most fat. Limiting how much fat you consume may make it easier to lose weight and may improve some diabetic parameters. Using mainly monounsaturated fats, such as those in olive, canola, and high oleic acid oils, while restricting saturated fats is wise. Eating fat-rich fish at least twice a week adds healthful omega-3 fatty acids. The rest of a healthful diabetic diet includes plenty of lean protein-rich foods such as poultry, fish, and legumes. These foods do not raise blood glucose levels.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found mainly in fat-rich fish such as salmon, rainbow trout, mackerel, and sardines confer health benefits not found in other foods. “Omega-3s” from fish are highly polyunsaturated fatty acids that lower triglycerides, reduce abnormal heart rhythms, reduce blood pressure by small but significant amounts, and improve blood clotting regulation. In a large study of more than 11,000 people with heart disease, the daily consumption of about one gram of fish oil reduced cardiovascular mortality by 30% and sudden cardiac death by 45%. A gram of fish oil is equivalent to a 3 ounce serving of salmon. Omega-3s may also boost the effectiveness of statins, drugs widely prescribed to lower blood LDL cholesterol levels.

Studying populations such as the Alaskan and Greenland Inuit, who frequently eat fatty fish or marine animals rich in omega-3s, has taught us a great deal. Traditionally, these native people have had very little cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Japanese, who also consume large amounts of fish, have much lower rates of heart disease and diabetes than Americans. As these populations adopt western eating habits and exercise less, their prevalence of obesity and diabetes soars. Could the onset of diabetes be changed if native people at risk for the disease resumed eating more omega-3 rich foods? Dr. Sven Ebbesson of the University of Virginia sought the answer in a study of 44 Alaskan Inuit who had early signs of diabetes – impaired glucose tolerance and excess weight. Inuit were asked to eat fewer foods high in saturated fats and more traditional foods, especially fish and marine animals. After 4 years, not a single person had advanced to type 2 diabetes, in spite of not losing weight. This promising study needs to be confirmed in a larger number of subjects.

Omega-3 fatty acids may be particularly beneficial for overweight people with hypertension who are on weight loss diets. Dr. Trevor Mori and colleagues at the University of Western Australia recently showed that people on a weight loss diet that included fat-rich fish daily had improved glucose and insulin metabolism. People on the same diet without fish had no such improvements. Both groups lost the same amount of weight, but blood pressure reduction was greater among the fish eaters than the non-fish eaters. Even in people not losing weight, the inclusion of fish every day reduced blood pressure. Thus, people with diabetes who eat rich fish on a regular basis can boost the benefits of weight loss in improving glucose control and blood pressure.

Finally, it has been known for years that omega-3s from fish reduce the likelihood of developing blood clots that lead to heart attacks and stroke. They also improve blood circulation. These benefits have been demonstrated in controlled clinical trials and occur without unfavorable changes in glucose or insulin activity. The American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association advocate eating fatty fish as a safe and effective way to obtain the heart health benefits of omega-3s. Eating fatty fish regularly is an important strategy to improve health in diabetes.

Preventing and Treating Diabetes

•Lifestyle change
•Regular exercise– check first with your doctor
•Healthful eating Omega-3 fatty acids
•Weight loss
•Regular exercise
•Healthful eating
•30-60 min 3-4 times/week
•Moderate intensity
•Limit foods high in saturated and trans fatty acids
•Use olive, canola and high oleic oils
•Choose fiber-rich carbohydrates such as whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables
•Eat fat-rich fish such as salmon two or more times/week

Why Salmon Is One of The Best Fishes You Can Eat:


Eating two or three servings of fish a week is a simple way to improve your health and stave off certain illnesses and diseases. Salmon is one of the most nutritious types of fish to add to your diet. It supplies iron, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, in addition to a whole host of other nutrients you need for good health.

To learn more about why salmon is one of the best fishes you can eat go to “Why Salmon Is One of the Best Fishes You Can Eat:”

What to Eat – And to Avoid! – When Bad Moods Strike

When you’re feeling bummed, your kitchen can be an ally or an enemy. Don’t let your moods lead to these overeating pitfalls.

Approaching your kitchen with caution is key when your mood heads south. Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition director at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, offers tips for what diet tweaks you should make to keep you in good spirits.

Feeing Stressed?
Eat your way through it … smartly. Certain key nutrients in foods can have an impact on your moods, says Cassetty. Try having whole-wheat pasta, which contains magnesium and may reduce stress responses in your body. Pair the pasta with salmon, which provides omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown these fish fats may help decrease anxiety symptoms. Round out your meal with a leafy green salad — like kale — or other fresh fruits and veggies that are full of vitamin C, which a 2011 study in the British Journal of Nutrition linked to lower levels of stress markers.

Feeling Angry?
When you’re seeing red, think green. Having a cup of tea to help relax is a common for many people, but next time, make sure its green tea, says Cassetty. Green tea contains a mood-leveling antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). According to a 2012 study in the medical journal Appetite, patients who received a dose of EGCG rated their moods as calmer compared to those who took a placebo. Their brain waves suggested a “relaxed yet attentive state.”

RELATED: 9 Easy Ways to De-Stress at Home

Feeling Down?
Eat breakfast! You can even reap the benefits of a morning meal without cooking — just reach for your cereal bowl. According to a 2011 study in the journal Stress and Health, having cereal at the start of the day may contribute to overall feeling of better wellbeing, perhaps because of cereal’s role in promoting good digestion. It’s too soon to tell, but there may be a brain-gut connection.

Feeling Negative?
Put down the Ben & Jerry’s! Although your knee-jerk reaction to a letdown may be to head for your favorite comfort food, “gorging on a tub of ice cream, a bag of potato chips or a whole pan of fudge brownies will only make you feel guilty later,” says Cassetty. This only leads to more negative feelings and will make your down-in-the-dumps mood worse. “Put on your favorite upbeat song. It’s a zero-calorie way to instantly lift your spirits,” she explains.

RELATED: Easy, 7-Day High-Energy Meal Plan

Feeling Unmotivated?
Sipping wine and vegging out in front of the TV may sound appealing when you’re battling the blahs, but your corkscrew is your worst enemy on days like these. “Alcohol can lower your inhibitions and lead to overeating,” says Cassetty. Instead, take a quick stroll around the block. “It sounds counterintuitive, but getting a bit of exercise can actually boost your energy, which can help you tackle your to-do list.”

Feeling Sluggish?
If you’re struggling to make it through an afternoon at the office, your blood sugar level may be the culprit. Keep your energy up by eating fiber- and protein-filled meals and snacks that enter the bloodstream slowly. An added bonus: They do a better job keeping your hunger at bay. Steer clear of the sweets — they’re chock-full of refined carbs and sugar that will send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride and prompt the afternoon slump. Also, don’t overlook the value of sleep, says Cassetty. “Sleep deprivation can mess with the hormones that control your appetite and promotes cravings for more carbs and sugar.”

Source: Good Housekeeping. By: Juju Kim