Doctor's Note

Check out Boosting Heart Nerve Control for how we can improve heart rhythm function through diet, and check out my other videos on alcoholcaffeine; and the persistent organic pollutants that build up in the aquatic food chain. The mercury that accumulates in fish (see Cannibalistic Feed Biomagnification) can also affect brain function in children (see Maternal Mercury Levels), as well as in adults (see Fish Fog).

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts: Mercury Testing Recommended Before Pregnancy, and Eating To Extend Our Lifespan.

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    See also Boosting Heart Nerve Control for how one can improve heart rhythm function through diet, and there are other videos on alcohol, caffeine and the persistent organic pollutants that build up in the aquatic food chain. The mercury that accumulates in fish can also affect brain function in children and adults, just one of more than a thousand topics I cover.

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      Great Vid!! Let me tell you why!
      For some reason everytime I tell a patient about a plant based diet (which is probably between 5-10 times per day) why is it that nearly everyone, after I get done telling them about not eating animals/meat, they ask, “Can I still eat fish?”  Then by the sheer inquisitively, perplexed look on my face they respond with, “No?  But it has lots of Omega-3’s”
       I respond, “Sure it does, but if you also like dioxin, DDT and Mercury in your diet and want to act like the Mad Hatter on Alice in Wonderland, then by all means find the fillets and grill the gills.”  This is when they always start to look despondent. (I’m not ‘Fibbin’ either ;-} )
      Why is it people think fish are not animals?  Any insight?

      This video, again, is just one more reason to help keep our patients informed and safe.  If we are going by studies back in the Framingham days as increasing risk of disease what do you think we would find on a study done on todays fish?  Yikes!

    • HemoDynamic, M.D.

      The title could have been, “Red Fish, White Fish; Dark Fish, Afibish.”

      Of course, my humor side got the best of me again. 

  • Vera Springate

    It’s just incredible how toxic everything around has become, and the future is looking even more so, doesn’t it?  Is wild fish from Northern waters (Alaska) any better?  Or is it filled with mercury and Prozac there too?  Are you saying in this video that f.e. halibut is relatively safer to eat than salmon?

    Damage to environment is irreversible as I see it.  And I can’t say I see a lot of healthy looking people around, especially teens and small children, so can’t truly be hopeful.  How do you feel about this, Dr Greger?

    • Toxins

       All fish will contain certain levels of contaminants, even the “cleanest” fish, like Alaskan salmon still contain modest levels of pcb’s and it is recommended children should not consume this fish no more than 3 times a month. Fish are probably the most polluted of the animal products and since we are striving to achieve an optimally healthy diet, fish should be excluded from the diet.

      • Vera Springate

        Thanks very much.  If you were to eat any animal protein twice a week, what would you go for?  Cleanliness is the key of course.

        • Toxins

           I am personally vegan simply because I cannot view any animal product as healthy to eat. They all have their issues and one can achieve excellent health on a whole foods plant based diet without meat. If one is trying to cure themselves of type 2 diabetes for example, the inclusion of meat, even once a week, regresses the healing of this disease.

          if you must have that meaty taste I would say go for mock meats, although even these foods are highly processed, but they are better than the actual meat itself.

        • Coacervate

          Home-raised, free-range egg whites

  • Studies are still conflicting: Wu JH, Lemaitre RN, King IB, Song X, Sacks FM, Rimm EB, Heckbert SR, Siscovick DS, Mozaffarian D. Association of plasma phospholipid long-chain ω-3 fatty acids with incident atrial fibrillation in older adults: the cardiovascular health study. Circulation 2012 Mar 6; 125(9):1084-93.
    Source Circulation. 2012 Mar 6;125(9):1084-93.

    • Toxins

       Fish is not the only source of omega 3. An abundance of omega 3 exists in the plant world.

  • Reco Davis

    What about fish oil? I use Norwegian Gold CO2 extracted pills which are IFOS certified. Other than these, I am vegan. …Concerned that the pills might not be the best way to obtain EPA and DHA though, even though it appears they are the cleanest and least oxidized on the market.

  • Gary B

    This is the truth! I weighed 297lbs at the age of 38 was on BP and cholesterol meds. So I decided to lose weight by eating healthier and jogging 3 years ago. I stopped eating red meat and salmon became my meat of choice. I had my first afib event after jogging 4 miles on a hot June 2010 day. It was very scary, I drove myself to the hospital, I converted spontaneously before reaching the hospital. I had a second event in the following October which did send me to the hospital. A battery of tests revealed no clear reason for my Afib. On top of eating salmon 2 – 3 times daily generally in the form of sushi I was taking fish oil as well. They put me on meds to control the afib, despite that, I had my worse event that Nov. I sought to educate myself as the doctors were just treating me. I had lost 50 pounds I was eating what I thought was very healthy and exercising daily. It really stressed me that I was eating better that I had in 15 years So, I scoured the internet. I found one report by an electrophysiologist in New York that showed a relationship between fish consumption and afib development. When I printed the report and brought it to my personal electrophysiologist he had never heard of it and said “Go eat some salmon and see if you go in to afib.” I’m not joking. My Nov event I had consumed a lot of salmon the day before, too much for it to be a coincidence in my mind. I have since completely stopped eating any animal products.
    I am down to a much healthier 186lbs and I have not had an afib event since and I am off all medications.

    • Thea

      Gary B: That’s an awesome story. I’m sorry you had to go through all that, but I love happy endings. Thanks for sharing your story. I expect it will help other people too. Good luck!

    • laura r

      you were very extreme. anything taken to that level causes harm. i eat salmon 2 xs a week, & other fish. the oil pills are too much.

    • brit

      Gary how are you doing, anymore AFib? I have had several incidents and they all seem unrelated to anything except first one due to too much thyroid meds. Just had AFib today after 2 years :( Trying to find natural ways to avoid it. brit

  • ptrjnf

    are there any studies that differentiate between herbivore and
    omnivore/carnivore fish? of all the fish mentioned above only
    sardines eat plankton. lower on the food chain so the level of
    contaminants should be much less.

    • Granville Airton

      This great vid caused me to reflect on my own condition. In 2000, prior to my reading anything by Ornish, McDougall, Greger or Esselstyn, I had a LAD to LIMA bypass. I became a veggie the next day. After a few years, my wife said that I should eat fish because it was healthy (had “good” fat) and I read that it also had lots of Omega 3s. She also said, “what are our friends going to feed you when we go to their place for dinner? I agreed to start eating fish (it wasn’t a tough sell for her because I am an avid fisherman. Still am but give the fish away to my friends whom I’ve been unable to convince to become vegans) and I love eating fish! Overe the next five or more years I had AF about six or so times. I read the China Study in about 2010 and McDougall and the others and became a vegan. I didn’t keep records about the incidence of my AF but I’m sure I haven’t had it in at least four years. This isn’t a study of any kind but what an interesting coincidence!!

      Granville Airton

  • David Johnson

    A recent study showed a positive association between fish eating and reduced risk of dementia. It’s possible fish eating is associated with a generally healthy lifestyle, which could explain the result. Or perhaps eating fish reduced eating even less healthy meat. I am wondering what is known about veganism and dementia risk. The study did not, it seems. address this.

    • Thea

      David: I don’t know about the study you are referring to. However, I do know about Dr. Barnard’s book, “Power Foods For the Brain – an effective 3-step plan to protect your mind and strenthen your memory”. The book is the result of Dr. Barnard’s research into what we know about Alzheimers and other forms of dementia. When all was said and done, Dr. Barnard believes that the best science suggests that we eat no meat, dairy or eggs for optimum brain health. I don’t think any one study would trump that work. That’s just my opinion. But I thought I would point you to the book in case you weren’t aware of it:

      • David Johnson

        Thanks. Actually I just realized I mistated what I read – the study showed somewhat larger brain volume in certain areas including the hippocampus. I forget the details e.g. significance of the difference, and only read a popular summary in an AARP newsletter. Needless to say, I am quite skeptical of the claims.