The Tremendous Truth: Tuna is Healthy and Safe
First, let’s talk about what’s undisputedly terrific about tuna.
It’s chock full of protein.
Protein is a macronutrient that plays a role in virtually every function of the body and is essential for both the growth of bone and cartilage and for the body to heal and repair itself. Protein is broken down by the body into amino acids, which are then reassembled into numerous different types of proteins that are needed. Nine “essential” amino acids are not made by the body and can only be obtained from what we eat. Complete proteins - found best in grass-fed meat and wildcaught sea foods - provide all nine of the essential amino acids.
So how much do you need? A simple formula found in Cure Tooth Decay is to divide your body weight by 15. The number is the minimum amount of protein, in ounces, you need to eat throughout the day, every day.
Now that we know how much our bodies need protein, let’s talk about mercury.
First and foremost we must realize that the scary stuff we read and hear about with regard to the mercury in tuna is based on two key untrue things:
1. That the mercury levels in tuna are significantly rising due to human pollutants, rendering it unsafe.
2. That the mercury exposure guidelines by the Food and Drug Administration are at a threshold that if breached will result in mercury poisoning, especially to unborn children.
Methyl-mercury is virtually 100 percent naturally occurring in our oceans and our fish. Human contamination is actually only a measurable factor in rivers, streams and lakes where tuna is not found. And studies have shown no rise in tuna’s mercury levels over the past few decades. With regard to the FDA guidelines, they have a huge “uncertainty factor” built in that limits mercury exposures to levels 10 times lower than the lowest levels associated with any adverse effects at all.
Take for instance the people of the Indian Ocean island of Seychelles, who eat between 12 and 14 fish meals every week. According to a study published in the Seychelles Medical and Dental Journal, mercury levels measured in the island natives are higher than those measured in the United States, “yet they suffer no ill effects from mercury and receive a significant health benefit from making fish a large part of their diet.”
Another critical study by the one of the world’s most respected medical journals - The Lancet - was funded and led by the U.S. It looked at nutrition data collected from more than 8,900 British mothers and the results from IQ, motor-skill, and other developmental tests performed on their children from the ages of 6 months to 8 years. The team found “no evidence to lend support to the warnings of the U.S. advisory that pregnant women should limit their seafood consumption.” The lead researcher went on to even say “compliance with the advisory was associated with harm, specifically with regard to verbal development.”
So even erring on the side of extreme caution, how much tuna is safe to eat?
The website HowMuchFish.com, which says that “problems associated with mercury in commercial fish are theoretical, and highly unlikely” unless you ate more than three pounds of yellowfin (the typical sushi) tuna in a a week.