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Last updated on November 23rd, 2001 by Karen Shelton

Introduction

Gorgeous hair that is healthy and shiny is the manifestation of many factors including proper diet, nutrition, vitamins, minerals and supplements.

Along with proper diet healthy hair needs two essential fatty acids (EFAs), omega-3 and omega-6. Unfortunately the human body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids.

Omega-3 fats are found mostly in algae, cold-water fish, dark-green vegetables, flax seed oil, hemp oil and pumpkin seed oil. Fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids which protect you from a heart attack. These fish are commonly referred to as "oily fish" because they contain a high level of omega-3 oils.

Medical science has also found a correlation to lowered cancer rates, especially prostrate cancer, in men who eat a higher proportion of fish.

When it comes to fish, it can be a great way to eat healthy, add necessary essential fatty acids to your diet for optimal hair condition. While some people prefer to pop daily hair vitamins and minerals that include essential fatty acids, eating right is always a good choice.

Tuna For Good Hair Days?

When I was researching this article I found that there are basically three primary types of fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna) that are good for the hair because of the Omega-3 content. One fish that caught my eye as a great all around food was tuna.

Tuna is a wonderful hair food. Not only does it contribute much needed essential fatty acids, it is a great food for someone watching their weight.

Three and a half ounces of water-packed canned tuna contains approximately 28 grams of protein and only about 127 calories. Everyone would agree that this is definitely a great food bargain for healthy eaters everywhere. How does canned tuna rate in terms of Omega-3 heart healthy oils?

It used to be that nutritionists believed that canning fish actually destroyed the healthy Omega-3 from the food.

A MIT Sea Grant Program study done a few years ago found that canning really has little effect on fatty acid contents in the tuna.

The study found that albacore (solid white) tuna has twice as much Omega-3 as chunk light tuna. The study also uncovered the fact that tuna packed in water has just as much Omega-3 as tuna in oil.

However, when tuna packed in oil is drained, it loses 15 to 25 percent because of the Omega-3 which is oil soluble. Draining water-packed tuna, causes a loss of only about 3 percent of the Omega-3 oil but reduces sodium content by 30 percent.

The morale to this story is that solid white tuna packed in water can pack some fabulous protein and Omega-3 punch as a good food source. Your hair will love the protein and the natural oils while your waistline will love the perfect diet food.

Tuna also offers great benefits when cooked as a tuna steak or other fish dishes. However, for an easy lunch, the canned variety can't be beat.

Tuna is not advised for anyone suffering from gout. If you have be diagnosed with gout eat fish without the skin when possible, because the skin is particularly rich in purine which irritates gout. Do not eat canned fish such as tuna or sardines or shellfish such as shrimps, mussels or similar fish.

Beware Raw Fish

Is tuna for everyone? I for one can't eat tuna. I had an unfortunate incident in 1973 with a can of tuna and my stomach has banned it forever from my palate. Some people worry about the mercury content in tuna. If this is a concern, research your tuna choices wisely. It is possible that other types of fish would satisfy your needs better. I try to eat salmon and halibut on a regular basis because of the wonderful overall benefits to diet, hair and skin.

Some people prefer to eat raw fish include sushi and seviche,. Unfortunately, raw fish can have a dark side that needs to be considered. The CDC has noticed a dramatic increase in a variety of raw fish related infections in recent years with the growing popularity of raw fish.

Raw fish can harbor the infective stages of parasitic worms known as tapeworms, round worms, and flukes. A tapeworm parasite can grow to be a worm that is several yards in length that can live indefinitely in your intestines. Although this is not serious it can be quite unpleasant. Raw fish can also transmit infections caused by bacteria and viruses, such as hepatitis. Public-health regulations are in place that require that establishments serving raw fish prove that the fish is frozen at sufficient durations to kill parasites. Unfortunately freezing raw fish does not always kill the bacteria or eliminate the viruses and parasites. Even more unfortunate is the fact that not all establishments adhere to safety regulations.

Fish that is most risky includes sushi, South American seviche, Scandinavian gravlax and Hawaiin lomi lomi salmon to name a few.

So eating raw fish is by no means risk free. If you love sushi and related raw fish items, make sure you take all the proper precautions and that you eat at establishments with the highest standards.

Pregnant Women Warnings

The Food and Drug Administration recently warned that pregnant women should avoid eating more than 12 ounces per week of cooked swordfish, shark, king macherel or tilefish during pregnancy. The reason? More than 12 ounces may contain enough mercury to damage the nervous system of the fetus.

Is tuna included? Not in the current warnings but anyone who is pregnant should discuss food choices with their doctors. The same is true with people on special diets or with health concerns.

Other Benefits From Tuna & Fish

The American Cancer Society does not currently include a recommendation to "eat more fish" in its list of advice on dietary behaviors, like the American Heart Association does. But it's important to note that by including more fish in your diet, you may be replacing something else - like red meat or pork - that tends to be high in saturated fat. And, a high intake of saturated fat is associated with an increased cancer risk.

Healthy hair requires a balanced source of iron in the body. Fish is a great natural source of iron. It also provides a good source of magnesium and potassium. Deficiencies in magnesium have been linked to long term hair problems.

Conclusion

Tuna is a great food option for healthy, shiny, luxurious hair. You can eat it canned or fresh. It has been proven in studies that tuna packed in water that is drained does not lose its Omega-3 nutrients which are necessary to nourish hair and skin.

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