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Shellfish not bad for your heart after all

UK - Its the kind of news to warm the cockles of seafood fans' hearts.After two decades of saying that shellfish was bad for the heart, health experts have changed their mind.

Following a wave of studies and lobbying from the shellfish industry, official advice to avoid prawns and mussels has been reversed on the government's NHS Direct website. Before yesterday, the website had included seafood among a list of items that increased cholesterol levels.

As a result, for more than 20 years, prawns and other shellfish, like cockles and mussels, were avoided by people in the UK worried about their cholesterol levels. Medical advice suggested they were among foods including eggs and meat which could raise cholesterol levels in the blood which can be a major cause of heart disease.

Other countries, notably France and Canada, did not have similar warnings, believing the dishes were, like most fish dishes, healthy. NHS Direct altered its stance yesterday after the advice of medical experts and lobbying from the Shellfish Association of Great Britain.

Studies now indicate that the cholesterol we get from our food has much less effect on the level of cholesterol in our blood than the amount of saturated fat we eat. Shellfish, like most seafood, is low in saturated fat. In addition, it contains omega-3 and is high in selenium, zinc, iodine and copper.

Visitors to the website will now see a new set of advice, with no link between shellfish, cholesterol and heart disease. Professor Bill Lands, the US nutritional scientist whose studies shattered the theory of high cholesterol, said: "Maintaining an adequate omega-3 level in the diet is the surest way of avoiding heart disease. Shellfish can help that.

Source: The Herald