Fish story proves no easy choice in life

This has been a bad week for people like me who get their medical news from USA Today. A few days ago I read about a scientist who claims pecans (my favorite) may not be as healthy to consume as previously believed. Just when I think I’m eating the right stuff, some nut comes along and ruins everything.

It was plenty confusing when coffee was reported to be bad for us, then good for us. Researchers were sure it caused heart attacks, but it prevented strokes — except for decaf, which not only caused strokes but was related to diabetes. I’m sure I got that all wrong, but so what. It’s all going to change soon, anyway.

I was so baffled a few years ago about whether peanuts were good for me that it actually drove me to start drinking. That was a good thing because they said alcohol helped your heart, but it ended up as bad news because then they said it wasn’t the alcohol that was beneficial but the grapes. And I had been drinking beer.

A health alert this week took the cake. Cake, by the way, is not good for you, unless it’s chocolate, which has aphrodisiac qualities. But chocolate also has caffeine, which is bad for you (unless it’s the same amount of caffeine that was good for you if you were drinking coffee before August 2007).

It was this week I learned that some salmon contains way too much mercury. Ever since the first report several years ago that salmon had beneficial Omega fatty acids, I’ve been chowing down on anything that swims upstream to die: coho, chinook, king, Alaskan pink and sockeye. I have eaten smoked, fresh and canned salmon. If my heart wasn’t bright red before, it is now.

Then I saw this headline last week in USA Today: Farmed salmon more dangerous to eat than wild salmon

Of course, statistics about what’s dangerous can be misleading. Maybe some of those people fishing for wild salmon were eaten by bears. That’s the kind of data that gets lost in those fancy university studies.

But no, farmed salmon apparently is worse for us. At least today. So I decided to adjust my diet accordingly. In the supermarket it’s hard to tell wild from farm-raised. They all look pretty dead to me.

My doctor said I could eliminate salmon from my diet altogether and opt instead for fish oil pills, which apparently aren’t made from fish at all but are made from Docosapentaenoic acid. Let’s see. Lox and bagels or Docosapentaenoic acid and bagels? There are no easy choices in life.

By the way, I never believed the marketing claims that eating fish regularly was good for your memory. When I was in high school, I ate fish sticks three days a week and tuna sandwiches on weekends. Then I went to college where I spent half my waking hours looking for my car, my spiral notebook and my wallet.

I also couldn’t find a date.

I’m getting hungry writing about all this food. I think I’ll have smoked salmon on a bagel and for dessert, a handful of chocolate-covered pecans. See you next week … if I live that long.