Monday, April 26, 2010

Fish, Good Or Bad?

Fish is a nutritious source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduces inflammation and heart disease.  Fish is great for your brain and eyes also.  Many doctors suggest eating two 6 ounce servings per week.  More isn't recommended because all fish has traces of mercury.  While healthy adults have the ability to eliminate mercury from their bodies, children, women who are pregnant and women who are breast-feeding need to avoid certain types of fish.  And just to be safe, it's best that all people avoid fish containing higher levels of mercury, most of the time.  Usually, larger and older fish have more mercury, while smaller and younger fish have less.  So which fish should you eat?  The Environmental Defense Fund has a best and worst list: 

Crab, Dungeness
Farmed Oysters
Herring, Atlantic
Catfish, USA
Mackerel, Atlantic
Sablefish/Black Cod
Salmon, wild Alaska
Sardines, Pacific USA
Shrimp, pink Oregon
Striped bass, farmed
Sturgeon, farmed
Tilapia, USA
Trout, rainbow, farmed
Tuna, USA, Canada – light has less mercury, but you can safely eat albacore (white) once a week
Chilean, sea bass
Orange roughy
Rockfish, trawl
Swordfish, imported
Tilefish, Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic
Tuna, big-eye/yellowfin
Tuna, bluefin

If a fish is not listed, it's mercury content is somewhere in the middle.  Make sure your fish is not undercooked.  The fillet should be tender and flaky, with no transparency.  Canned tuna and salmon are super values and an excellent way to get some fish into your diet.  All canned salmon packed in the USA is wild Alaskan, which is low in mercury.

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  1. An easy way to estimate your mercury exposure from eating fish is to check out the free online mercury calculator at Based on the current U.S. EPA and FDA guidelines, the mercury calculator is an excellent way to know your potential mercury exposure risk.

  2. Got Mercury, thanks for a great tip!