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What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Wild Alaskan Cod?

By Charmaine Jones

Wild Alaskan cod is a cold-water fish also known as black cod or sablefish. It is low in mercury, a toxic element that occurs naturally in the earth's crust, and high in the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, which have tremendous heart health benefits. Wild Alaskan cod contains as much EPA and DHA as wild salmon, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. EPA and DHA are extremely low in the American diet.

Heart Health

EPA and DHA are “long-chain” omega-3 fatty acids only found in fish and fish oil. These nutrients reduce risk of death from coronary heart disease by as much as 36 percent, according to Alaska health officials at the Department of Health and Social Services. Omega-3s can stabilize the heart's rhythm and prevent fatality due to arrhythmias. EPA and DHA also decrease blood pressure, blood clot formation and triglycerides in your blood by affecting your body’s ability to make triglycerides.

Infant Health

DHA is significant in brain and eye development. It helps with structure, growth and development of the fetal central nervous system and retina. It is part of the fatty acid tissue in the retina and makes up 30 percent of the neural tissue of the fetus' brain’s weight. An infant acquires DHA in utero from her mother, and the DHA accumulates rapidly beginning in the third trimester of pregnancy until the first six weeks of the infant's life. There is no daily recommended dietary intake for EPA or DHA, but experts in omega-3 research currently recommend 200 milligrams of DHA per day for pregnant and lactating women, according to food and nutrition specialists based at Colorado State University Extension.

Other Benefits

EPA and DHA found in fish oil may reduce inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease where the immune system targets the joints, causing painful and tender joints. However, the body of research is weak and more studies are needed to confirm suggested benefits.

Recommendations

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise that you eat fish, such as wild Alaskan cod, twice a week for the greatest benefits. Pregnant and nursing women, women who can become pregnant and children ages 12 years and under should choose the types of fish they consume wisely to avoid too much mercury in the diet. Adults who cannot become pregnant and males older than 12 years can consume fish safely more than twice a week from any Alaskan fish because there are no suggested consumption limits for any species of Alaska fish. However, avoid predatory fish such as tilefish, king mackerel, swordfish and shark because they contain the highest amounts of mercury. A serving size of fish is 3 ounces for children under 12 years and 6 ounces for adults.

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