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After adjusting for factors such as age, gender and smoking, there was no link between mercury exposure and risks for heart disease or stroke. This was true even at high exposure where the average toenail mercury levels were 1 microgram per gram -- roughly twice the recommended limit for pregnant women.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults eat fish at least twice a week. Pregnant women and young children are advised to avoid fish with the highest mercury concentrations and limit themselves to 12 ounces of fish a week such as shrimp, salmon and catfish, which contain lower mercury levels.
While fish contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, consumers should also round out their diet with whole grains and fruits and vegetables, experts say.
"Fish intake is important, but we also have to think about the whole package," said Alice Lichtenstein, a Tufts University nutrition professor and spokeswoman for the heart group, who was not involved in the research.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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