FDA and EPA Issue Final Fish Consumption Advice

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On January 18, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued final advice regarding fish consumption. This advice is geared toward helping women who are pregnant or may become pregnant – as well as breastfeeding mothers and parents of young children – make informed choices when it comes to fish that are healthy and safe to eat. (This advice refers to fish and shellfish collectively as “fish.”)

To help these consumers more easily understand the types of fish to select, the agencies have created an easy-to-use reference chart that sorts 62 types of fish into three categories:

  • “Best choices” (eat two to three servings a week)
  • “Good choices” (eat one serving a week)
  • “Fish to avoid”

Fish in the “best choices” category make up nearly 90 percent of fish eaten in the United States.

An FDA analysis of fish consumption data found that 50 percent of pregnant women surveyed ate fewer than 2 ounces a week, far less than the amount recommended. Because the nutritional benefits of eating fish are important for growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood, the agencies are advising and promoting a minimum level of fish consumption for these groups. The advice recommends 2-3 servings of lower-mercury fish per week, or 8 to 12 ounces. However, all fish contain at least traces of mercury, which can be harmful to the brain and nervous system if a person is exposed to too much of it over time. The maximum level of consumption recommended in the final advice is consistent with the previous recommended level of 12 ounces per week. The new advice is consistent with the 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

For adults, a typical serving is 4 ounces of fish, measured before cooking. Serving sizes for children should be smaller and adjusted for their age and total calorie needs. It is recommended that children eat fish once or twice a week, selected from a variety of fish types.

“Fish are an important source of protein and other nutrients for young children and women who are or may become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. This advice clearly shows the great diversity of fish in the U.S. market that they can consume safely,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Stephen Ostroff, M.D. “This new, clear and concrete advice is an excellent tool for making safe and healthy choices when buying fish.” Choices lower in mercury include some of the most commonly eaten fish, such as shrimp, pollock, salmon, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod.

When updating the advice, the agencies took a cautious and highly protective approach to allow consumers to enjoy the benefits of fish while avoiding those with higher levels of mercury, which is especially important during pregnancy and early childhood. The average mercury content of each type of fish was calculated based on FDA data and information from other sources. The updated advice cautions parents of young children and certain women to avoid seven types of fish that typically have higher mercury levels: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico; shark; swordfish; orange roughy; bigeye tuna; marlin; and king mackerel.

For fish caught recreationally, consumers are urged to check for local advisories where they are fishing and gauge their fish consumption based on any local and state advisories for those waters. If no information on fishing advisories is available, eat just one fish meal a week from local waters and also, avoid other fish that week. Consumers should clean and trim the fish they catch of fat and skin, since locally-caught fish may contain contaminants besides mercury that can be reduced by proper trimming and cooking, (e.g. broiling instead of frying can reduce some contaminants by letting fat drip away from the fish).

“It’s all about eating and enjoying fish of the right kind and in the right amounts,” said EPA Director for Water Science and Technology, Elizabeth Southerland, Ph.D. “This joint advice not only provides information for fish consumers who buy from local markets, but it also contains good information for people who catch their own fish or are provided fish caught by friends or relatives.”

All retailers, grocers and others are urged to post this new advice, including the reference chart listing fish to choose, prominently in their stores so consumers can make informed decisions when and where they purchase fish. The agencies will be implementing a consumer education campaign working with a wide array of public and private partners featuring the new advice.

In June 2014, the agencies issued draft advice which encouraged pregnant women and others to eat between 8 and 12 ounces of fish a week of fish “lower in mercury” but did not provide a list showing consumers which fish are lower in mercury. The advice issued today also takes into account more than 220 comments received from academia, industry, nongovernmental organizations and consumers as well as an external peer review of the information and method used to categorize the fish.

Source: FDA

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Pan-fried Fish with Vegetables and Salsa

Ingredients

5 tablespoons olive oil
3 small fennel bulbs (about 1 pound total), trimmed and cut from tip to core into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 small lemons, cut in half crosswise
4 red snapper fillets with skin, 6-ounce each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salsa Verde

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped green onion (white and green parts)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped drained nonpareil capers
1 tablespoon minced shallots
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Method

  1. To make the salsa verde, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside at room temperature.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then lay half of the fennel and onion in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until tender and golden brown. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil and the remaining fennel and onions. This time, place the lemon halves cut side in the skillet alongside the vegetables and cook for about 1 minute, or until they begin to brown on the cut sides.
  3. Remove the lemons from the skillet and squeeze 1/4 cup of juice from about 4 of the lemon halves. Stir the juice into the salsa verde. Season the salsa to taste with salt and pepper. Reserve the remaining lemons for serving.
  4. Meanwhile, using a sharp knife, lightly score the skin side of each fillet. Season the fillets with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, then lay the snapper fillets skin side down in the skillet and cook for about 3 minutes or until the skin is golden brown and crisp.
  6. Turn the fish over and cook for 1 minute more, or until the fish is barely opaque when pierced in the thickest part with the tip of a small knife.
  7. Divide the fennel mixture evenly among four dinner plates and place the fish alongside. Drizzle with the salsa verde and serve with the reserved caramelized lemons.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Curtis Stone What’s for Dinner?

In Pictures: Filipino Foods of American Restaurants

One of the Restaurant – FOB Brooklyn

High Blood Pressure May Not Be All Bad in the Elderly: Study

Developing high blood pressure in very old age may provide some protection from dementia, a new study suggests.

In middle age, high blood pressure — also called hypertension — boosts dementia risk later in life, said study lead researcher Maria Corrada. It also raises your risk for heart attack and stroke.

But its onset in the eighth or ninth decade of life was linked to lower risk of mental decline in one’s 90s, her team found.

“Hypertension in the very old is not detrimental for mental health,” said Corrada, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at the University of California, Irvine.

Several factors may help explain the apparent association between late-life high blood pressure and lower dementia risk, Corrada said.

For one, as people age, blood pressure may need to increase to keep blood flowing to the brain for normal functioning.

“It’s a matter of creating enough pressure to get blood to oxygenate the brain adequately,” Corrada said.

The researchers said it’s also possible, but less likely, that blood pressure drops as dementia begins due to the deterioration of brain cells. This could mean that elderly people who don’t develop dementia will have higher blood pressure.

High blood pressure in the very old might have other benefits, Corrada said. “There is evidence that high blood pressure may also reduce frailty and disability,” she said.

It’s clear that age matters, Corrada said, although the study didn’t prove a cause-and-effect link between high blood pressure and reduced dementia risk.

“Whatever we know and learn about the health of the younger elderly does not necessarily apply to the health of the ‘oldest old’ — the fastest-growing segment of the population,” she said.

To avert a public health epidemic of dementia, it’s important to understand how risk for mental decline might change over time, the researchers and others said.

High blood pressure may need to be divided into at least two classes, said Dr. Sam Gandy, a New York City brain specialist.

“We usually think of the young adult onset form, which if untreated can damage heart, kidney, eye and brain blood vessels,” said Gandy, director of the Center for Cognitive Health at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

A second class may be late-life hypertension, which is driven by a brain in “distress,” he said.

“This distressed brain, through neurological mechanisms, could be causing blood pressure to rise in an attempt to improve blood flow and relieve the distress,” Gandy explained.

The new findings may explain why treating late-life hypertension has recently failed to reduce dementia, added Gandy.

For the study, Corrada and her colleagues followed 559 people aged 90 and older for nearly three years. The participants were free from dementia at the start of the study.

The researchers checked blood pressure history and assessed the participants for dementia every six months during the course of the study. During follow-up, 40 percent developed dementia.

High blood pressure was defined as a systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or greater and a diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or more, Corrada said. Systolic pressure is the first number in a blood pressure reading.

The researchers found that those who developed high blood pressure after age 80 were 42 percent less likely to develop dementia in their 90s compared to those with normal blood pressure. And, those whose high blood pressure started after age 90 were 63 percent less likely to develop dementia versus those without hypertension.

The link remained even if patients were taking blood pressure-lowering medications, according to the study.

These findings echo other seemingly inconsistent findings about the risk for dementia. For example, two studies have shown that people who are overweight at 75 or beyond have a lower risk for mental dysfunction, Corrada said.

It’s not completely understood why high blood pressure and heaviness might become protective in old age, said Heather Snyder, director of medical and scientific operations at the Alzheimer’s Association.

“We need to better understand the connection between the cardiovascular system and our brains,” Snyder said.

In the meantime, do what you can to maintain good heart health as you age, she added.

The report was published online in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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