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Is Smoked Fish Healthy?

by
author image Adam Cloe
Adam Cloe has been published in various scientific journals, including the "Journal of Biochemistry." He is currently a pathology resident at the University of Chicago. Cloe holds a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Boston University, a M.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago.
Is Smoked Fish Healthy?
Sandwich with smoked salmon. Photo Credit zhekos/iStock/Getty Images

When you are trying to plan out a diet, understanding what foods are healthy and which are not is important. In general, fish are considered to be healthy when consumed in moderation, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends two servings of fish a week as part of a healthy diet. Smoked fish can help you meet your servings, but there are a few health concerns that you should consider.

Lean Protein

One of the advantages of eating most fish is that they are a good source of lean protein. Protein is an important part of the diet, particularly if you are trying to increase your muscle mass using an intensive exercise program. One of the advantages of eating smoked fish is that there is a relatively high amount of protein in the fish, which also are low in saturated fat.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Certain kinds of fish also contain high amounts of a type of oil known as omega-3 fatty acids. Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and cod, the American Heart Association explains, contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are able to improve cardiovascular health because they help lower the levels of triglycerides and "bad" cholesterol in the blood and may also raise the levels of "good" cholesterol.

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Parasites

One of the biggest risks of consuming smoked fish, however, is food poisoning. Smoked fish are prone to becoming contaminated with bacteria and parasites, the Food and Drug Administration explains. People who eat smoked fish, such as salmon, run the risk of developing food poisoning. Although the parasites contained in smoked fish rarely cause any serious disease, if you eat contaminated smoked fish you may develop considerable intestinal discomfort. Women who are pregnant should not consume smoked fish.

Smoked Fish And Cancer

Another risk of eating smoked fish is the increased risk of stomach cancer. Smoked fish contains elevated levels of nitrates and nitrites, which are byproducts of the smoking process. High levels of these chemicals are associated with an increased risk of developing stomach cancer, the Daily Mail explains. This means that if you eat smoked fish on a regular basis, you may be increasing your risk of developing stomach cancer.

Considerations

As with most food products, the key to consuming smoked fish is moderation. Moderate amounts of smoked fish are good for you and will only minimally increase your risk of developing stomach cancer. Similarly, eating smoked fish can lead to food poisoning, so try to get your smoked fish from places that carefully raise their fish in controlled environments, which reduces your risk of inadvertently consuming fish parasites.

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