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Choose Fish That’s Low In Mercury, But Don’t Stop Eating It!

Is it safe to eat fish?  What about the toxins found in fish that come from environmental pollution, like mercury, PCBs and dioxins?  Other than avoiding or limiting certain species of fish that may be high in mercury, research clearly shows there is a much greater health risk if people don’t eat fish than if they do.  Here’s how to be a safe fish eater:

  • Women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should NOT stop eating fish, but should be careful about making safe fish choices.
  • Limiting mercury is important.  It can accumulate in the body and cause substantial damage to your nervous system.  Avoid Bass Chilean, Bluefish, Escolar, Grouper, King Mackerel, Mackerel Spanish, Marlin, Orange Roughy, Sablefish, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish (also called golden bass or golden snapper), Tuna Steaks and sushi made with tuna.  Choose canned light tuna (made from Skipjack Tuna) rather than white (Albacore) tuna as it is much lower in mercury.  If you prefer the taste of white (albacore) tuna limit your intake to one serving (½ cup, 125 mL) per week.
  • Both wild and farmed salmon and rainbow trout are great choices for omega-3 fats.  They are also low in mercury.  Sardines are another high omega-3, low mercury choice. Smoked salmon is also rich in omega-3 fats, but tends to be high in sodium.
  • Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas.
  • Based on research from Consumer Labs (examined 41 fish oil products), Harvard (examined 5 popular brands of fish oil products) and Consumer Reports (examined 16 fish oil products) fish oil supplements are low in contaminants, including mercury.

Lessons Learned:

  • While it is important to choose fish that is lower in mercury, the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks.
  • I stand by my recommendation to eat two servings of fish rich in omega-3 fats, like salmon, each week.

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