Eating Fish Both Good and Bad for Pregnant Women

Salmon boosts omega-3 fatty acids in breast milk, lowers antibodies


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By Elizabeth Licata
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Pregnant women have been warned off fish because of concerns about mercury levels, but new research suggests that eating certain kinds of fish in the later stages of pregnancy can be helpful in some ways, but also harmful in others. It’s all very confusing.

During the study, which was published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers compared women on their normal diets and women who ate salmon-heavy diets.

Fatty fish like salmon has been found to boost levels of omega-3 fatty acids in breast milk, said study leader Philip Calder. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of those nutrients that appear to be made of magic healthfulness, and in this case the researchers say they’re particularly important during early childhood because they boost growth and development in infants’ brains and eyes.

According to UPI, Calder and his co-researchers advise pregnant women to eat one or two servings of oily fish like salmon or sardines a week.

But the study results are a bit of a double-edged sword, because while the women on the salmon-heavy diet had increased amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in their breast milk, those women also had lower levels of an important antibody that helps protect infants against infection.

“The study showed for the first time pregnant women who ate more oily fish pass on useful nutrients to their babies while breastfeeding,” Calder said. “However, we need to conduct much more research to examine how the lower levels of antibodies in breast milk could affect the babies.”

But while the jury is still out for pregnant women, salmon is still delicious and full of healthy omega-3s for the rest of us, so check out some of our best salmon recipes for some new ways to prepare it.
 


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