Little Risk in Eating More Fish

~ April 2012 No.244 ~

Eating fish on Friday was, for many people, a tradition that was adhered to because of the religious significance rather than nutritional concerns. Fish have always been an important part of the diet for those who have access to fish stocks. Eating fish is part of the cultural traditions of many people in many countries and, for some people, fish is a major source of food and essential nutrients.

Grilled salmon

There are good nutrition / health reasons for eating fish. A nutritional analysis of fish shows they can be a good source of energy, protein, and a range of other nutrients, including the long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), vitamin A, and vitamin D. Among the general adult population, consumption of fish, particularly oily fish, lowers the risk of mortality from coronary disease. This has been shown in many good quality scientific studies carried out in many countries.

At the same time that health regulatory officials are encouraging people to eat more fish, environmental scientists are cautioning that the levels of several pollutants in fresh and salt water bodies is becoming a concern. This has prompted many people to wonder whether it is safe to eat fish.

A recent report by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) has come to some very clear conclusions about the benefits and risks of eating fish.

The FAO / WHO document reports that among the general adult population, consumption of fish, particularly fatty fish, lowers the risk of mortality from coronary heart disease. More importantly, potential cancer risks associated with dioxins are well below established coronary heart disease benefits from fish consumption. Also, there is a lack of convincing evidence of risk of coronary heart disease associated with another pollutant of concern, methyl-mercury.


Types of Fish


  1. Reference
    • Report of the Joint Expert Consultation on the risks and Benefits of Fish Consumption. Rome25-19 January 2010. FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Report No. 978. Rome, FAO. 2011. 50 pp .


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Last modified

September 14 2016