Introduction

 

tinned fish

How many people do you know who call
themselves vegetarian and then order
fish from the menu? It doesn’t seem to
matter why they decided to become
veggie – ethics, health or environmental –
fish simply don’t seem to merit the same
consideration as chickens, cows, pigs and
sheep when it comes to diet.

Could it be that we’ve all had it drummed
into us that fish are essential for good
health (in the same way that we’re
constantly told that cow’s milk is essential
for calcium and healthy bones)? With
fish, it’s those elusive substances called
‘essential fatty acids’ (EFAs). They’re the
best source of the magical omega-3s which
keep our heart healthy and are vital for our
kids’ brains to develop – or so we’re told.

There is another view – that this is some of the most manipulative and deceptive marketing the UK has ever seen! Everywhere you look, oily fish is promoted – scientists recommend fish oils for children, food programmes on the television cook with them, health food magazines carry fish recipes, even some nutritionists who recommend a plant-based diet (and should know better) say there’s no harm in taking a fish oil supplement! Health food shops have on occasion had to display ‘SOLD OUT’ signs following fish oil frenzies as a result of misleading marketing.

Even whilst promoting fish oils, the government has issued warnings to
young people, pregnant and breastfeeding women and those who eventually intend to become pregnant to limit how much oily fish they eat because of the toxic pollutants it contains – pollutants that can harm them as well as unborn babies and infants. Fish now carries a government health warning!

The public has been left confused by these mixed messages.

This guide looks at the science behind health claims for fish and unearths the research that the fish industry would rather ignore – research which clearly shows that plant-based oils are much safer and healthier. It explains what omega-3 fats are, why they’re important and recommends sources other than fish. It reveals precisely what toxins are present in fish and how harmful they can be. It explains why public health policies promoting oily fish are misplaced and how they effectively undermine health promotion. This guide will leave you in no doubt – fish is not a health food.