Fish and Meat Consumption: Risks and Benefits
A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 August 2018) | Viewed by 47660
2. CIBER OBN, Biomedical Research Networking Center for Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition, Carlos III Health Institute, Madrid, Spain
Interests: toxicology; food safety; risk assessment; chromatography; mass spectrometry; environmental health; applied chemical analysis; chemical pollution
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
2. Research Institute of Biomedical and Health Sciences (IUIBS), University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, 35001 Las Palmas, Spain
3. Preventive Medicine Service, Centro Hospitalario Universitario Insular Materno Infantil (CHUIMI), Canarian Health Service, 35016 Las Palmas, Spain
Interests: mediterranean diet; public health; nutrition; obesity; epidemiology; diet; macro and micronutrients; hydration
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
The consumption of meats and fish today is facing a paradoxical situation: it is about foods that have always been considered as essential sources of valuable nutrients for human nutrition, and yet they are currently the subject of controversy and are in the research point of view by the scientific community because their excessive consumption may be related to the increase in the incidence of numerous diseases.
On the one hand, fish provides a healthy source of protein and is very rich in valuable nutrients such as omega 3 fatty acids. Evidence of the benefits of fish consumption on coronary heart disease, heart attack, age-related muscle degeneration, and the growth and development of children have been clearly established. However, all these benefits can be masked by the risk posed by the increasing presence of environmental contaminants in seafood, such as chlorinated organic pollutants (chlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins and furans), other organohalogenated compounds (polybrominated and perfluorinated compounds), heavy metals (methylmercury, lead, cadmium), metalloids like arsenic and many other toxic elements, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and a host of emerging contaminants such as new agrochemicals, veterinary and human drugs, ultraviolet filters, or hormones for therapeutic use, among many others. All these chemicals are increasingly contaminating the seas, oceans and surface continental waters. For many of these pollutants to which the consumer may be exposed through the consumption of fish and shellfish, the international food safety bodies have established maximum tolerable consumption limits, due to their high toxicity and their proven relationship with the development of cancer, immunotoxicity, and toxicity on the endocrine system, reproduction, neurological system or development. All this situation has led the health authorities to recommend a moderate consumption of fish and shellfish, and even to establish safe limits of consumption in populations that are at special risk, such as children, pregnant women and women of childbearing age.
On the other hand, meat is one of the staple foods of the human diet, as it provides high quality nutrients, but it also constitutes a relevant source of cholesterol and saturated fatty acids. Epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of red or processed meat with obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Most epidemiological studies suggest that a high consumption of meat, especially processed meat, is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. In fact, recently the WHO has cataloged the consumption of red meat and processed meats as a potentially carcinogenic activity, recommending a moderate consumption of this type of food to the general population. Possible reasons for the association between high meat intake and risk of colorectal cancer include some chemicals naturally contained in meat, or generated by processing and cooking, but also as in the case of fish, to an increasing content in meats of chemical environmental pollutants of all kinds, many of them with toxicological potential. From the literature it can be concluded that there is sufficient epidemiological evidence that relates the consumption of processed meat and the risk of colorectal cancer. On the contrary, there is only limited evidence linking meat intake with other diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes or other cancers.
Additionally, and from another point of view, both intensive livestock farming and fishing (whether extractive fishing or aquaculture), are growing activities, that parallel the increasing demand of meat and fish. These activities leave an important chemical footprint on the planet, which contributes to increasing the exposure of the general population to all types of contaminants through the whole diet, since the contaminants reach food items through a complex chains of events that reinforce themselves, entering in a feedback loop.
The final idea through this special issue is to achieve a more precise knowledge of what are the risk-benefit relationships of the consumption of fish and meat, in order to promote the adequate consumption of these highly nutritious foods while exposure to toxic pollutants is minimized.Prof. Dr. Octavio P Luzardo
Prof. Dr. Lluis Serra-Majem
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- Organic and Inorganic Pollutants
- Food Safety
- Risk-benefit analysis
- Nutrients intake
- Adults, Pregnat Women, Infants (population)
- Processed meat
- Developmental neurotoxicity