By Ariella Simke, Jan 21, 2020
Overwhelming research shows that cutting back on red meat and increasing our intake of high-quality seafood is beneficial to our health. Fish is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential fats, meaning the body cannot produce them on its own and they must be sourced from the food we eat. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to heart health, are instrumental in preventing stroke and may help control a host of other health conditions. However, the flip side of eating more fish is a tiny problem 5 millimeters or less in diameter: microplastics.
Tiny pieces of plastic called microplastics (a distinction based on size alone) are found in the ocean. Ceaselessly broken down by the elements over time, larger pieces of plastic become smaller and smaller. Microplastics are small enough to be ingested by sea animals, including those that end up on our plates. 70 years of manufacturing plastic later, we are finally starting to see where it all ends up when we toss it.
According to a 2017 UN report, there are more than 51 trillion microplastic particles in the sea, more than 500 times the number of stars in the Milky Way. Unlike plastic bags, fishing gear and other macroplastic waste, microplastics are so insidious because they are invisible to us. Research into microplastics and their effects is still in its infancy.