Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fish Consumption Guidelines

We know that eating too much fish can be harmful because of high levels or mercury. We also know that eating fish is healthy because it is low in artery-clogging saturated fat and has lots of omega-3 fatty acids, whatever they are. So how do we strike a balance between too little fish and too much. Contrary to popular believe, the answer is not "avoid eating fish", even for pregnant and nursing women. Recent research has shown that for the pregnant and non-pregnant alike, the benefits of eating fish out weight the risks. In fact, according to recent research, women who eat fish during pregnancy may even have smarter children.

According to the American Heart Association (a big fan of those omega-3's) normal people (ie the non-pregnant, non-nursing, non-kids among us) should eat no more than 14 oz (3 to 4 servings, or 2 normal meals) of low-mercury fish and no more than 7 oz (one meal) of high-mercury fish per week. For those of use who are pregnant, nursing or young children, the guideline are to avoid high-mercury fish all together and limit low-mercury fish consumption to 12 oz (2 average meals) per week.

High Mercury Fish (more than 0.6+ ppm)
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish (golden bass or golden snapper)
  • King mackerel

Moderate Mercury Fish (0.2 to 0.6 ppm)
  • Lobster
  • Grouper
  • Halibut
  • Fresh or frozen tuna
  • Canned tuna (albacore)
  • Red snapper
  • Orange roughy

Low Mercury Fish (less than 0.2 ppm)

  • Pollock
  • Salmon (fresh,frozen)
  • Cod
  • Catfish
  • Flounder or sole
  • Crabs
  • Scallops
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Shrimp
  • Canned tuna (light)
  • Herring

1 comment:

dave said...

Those guidelines seem eminently reasonable, and I don't stand a chance of exceeding them. I eat tuna every once in a while (I use Alton Brown's recipe - you can find it on if you search for "chimney tuna loin"). I've also taken a liking to tilapia; it's cheap, good for the environment, and good for you. I season mine with salt, red and black pepper, and old bay. Then I brown it on both sides in a pat of butter, add orange juice halfway up the sides, and let it braise until it's cooked through. I don't find my way to the fish market more than once every couple weeks though.

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