Garden path of the day: Fish hearts as food?

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I dimly remember a silly song about eating fish heads. And I'll confess to having used fish heads and other fillet leftovers to make soup. But I've never heard of eating fish hearts. In fact, I'm not sure that I've ever consciously seen a fish heart.

So I was taken aback by a recent (3/8/2021) MedPage Today headline that asked "Is Fish Heart Healthy Food? It Depends".

The article's first sentence straightened me out, of course — the issue is not whether fish heart is healthy food, but rather whether fish is heart-healthy food.

The obligatory screenshot:


  1. Grover Jones said,

    March 15, 2021 @ 7:12 am

    . . . and for want of a hyphen the war was lost.

  2. Cervantes said,

    March 15, 2021 @ 7:22 am

    I think the phrase "heart healthy" is common enough, particularly in the MedPage universe, that this is acceptable headline writing. This is really an example of how a stylistic domain, or jargon, can confuse if you aren't a habitue.

  3. Ralph J Hickok said,

    March 15, 2021 @ 7:51 am

    I guess you've never cleaned a fish.

    [(myl) I've cleaned lots of fish, but I never paid much attention to the "guts".]

  4. Polyspaston said,

    March 15, 2021 @ 9:43 am

    Burning them, if I remember my Tobit correctly, is a way to drive off evil spirits, as recommended by top archangels.

  5. Haamu said,

    March 15, 2021 @ 10:27 am

    And then there's Swedish Fish Hearts, which arguably qualifies as a garden-path product name.

  6. DBMG said,

    March 15, 2021 @ 11:12 am

    The following line, "Large pooled analysis of PURE, ONTARGET, TRANSCEND and ORIGIN", has a bit of garden path flavor as well.

  7. mg said,

    March 15, 2021 @ 12:07 pm

    Good example of why hyphens are so useful. Either that or using "are" instead of "is" to start the sentence would have avoided the garden path (but, granted, provided less Monday fun).

  8. SlideSF said,

    March 15, 2021 @ 12:14 pm

    My wife is Thai. She eats them. And the eyes too. Me, not so much.

  9. Brett said,

    March 15, 2021 @ 2:06 pm

    @SlideSF: When people talk about eating fish eyes, I am always reminded of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Shukhov, the titular protagonist, is considered a picky eater in the Gulag camp, since he doesn't eat the eyes on his breakfast fish if they are already coming loose from the head.

  10. Daniel Tse said,

    March 16, 2021 @ 4:03 am

    I was recently enjoying some steamed whole fish and found within a curious pyramid-shaped organ with a suspiciously aorta-looking tube on top, the results of inadequate cleaning. My suspicions were correct!

  11. Alexander Browne said,

    March 16, 2021 @ 12:09 pm

    Man Sues Hertz For Not Turning Over A Receipt That Would Have Cleared Him Of Murder Charges Until After He Spent Five Years In Jail (

  12. Batchman said,

    March 16, 2021 @ 3:57 pm

    To fulfill our minimum daily requirement of pedanticism, whether or not it's about fish hearts or fish in general, shouldn't it be "healthful" rather than "healthy"?

    [(myl) The OED's second sense for healthy is glossed "Conducive to or promoting health; wholesome, salubrious; salutary", and the citations include a quotation from John Locke: "Gardening or husbandry, and working in wood, are fit and healthy recreations for a man of study or business." Merriam-Webster's second sense is glossed "beneficial to one's physical, mental, or emotional state : conducive to or associated with good health or reduced risk of disease".

    And Robert Browning wrote:

    in that thin frame
    Pain-twisted, punctured through and through with cares,
    There lived a lavish soul until it starved,
    Debarred of healthy food.

    So, no. ]

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