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Go Fish-The Best Fish for Healthy Eating

There has been a lot of talk lately about how many servings of fish is too much and which fish are the best to eat. With concerns like mercury poisoning, eating farm-raised fish or wild fish, genetic engineering and over fishing, it’s important to consider certain things when choosing your next fish dinner or sushi roll.

Doctors and health professionals in general recommend fish because of the high dose of Omega 3’s fatty acids a serving supplies you with. A 6-ounce serving of fish can provide a day’s worth of high quality protein for adults. Eating fish once a week should not cause any concern for most people. For those fish eaters who partake in multiple servings of fish a week, especially children and pregnant women, the main concern can become mercury poisoning. Eating too much mercury-ridden fish can cause certain health problems including impairment in memory and behavior, tingling in the hands, feet, and lips, as well as causing possible damage to the heart and immune system. Aside from the mercury concern, we now have a number of different fish species that are soon to become extinct due to over fishing, or are being caught using environmentally destructive methods. There are some very simple rules to follow to be certain you are not getting a side dish of mercury or hurting the environment with your fish entree.

1) Two to three (4) ounce servings of low mercury fish or (6) ounces of shellfish per week is a good target to stick to for most people. If you are pregnant, this number should be as low as 1 (6) ounce serving of low mercury fish per month.

2) Choose only wild fish and those that are not on the list marked as either facing extinction, perilously low in numbers or caught in an environmentally unsound way. Here is a list of those fish according to the NRDC:

Flounder*
Haddock (Atlantic)*
Salmon (Canned)**
Salmon (Fresh)**
Scallop*
Shrimp*
Cod (Alaskan)*
Halibut (Atlantic)*
Monkfish*
Skate*
Snapper*
Tuna (Skipjack)*
Grouper*
Sea Bass (Chilean)*
Tuna (Yellowfin)*
Marlin*
Orange Roughy*
Shark*
Swordfish*
Tilefish(Bigeye, Ahi)*

** Farmed Salmon may contain PCB’s, chemicals with serious long-term health effects.

3) Keep this list handy of Low, Middle and High Mercury Fish, from the NRDC:

LEAST MERCURY FISH-Enjoy These Fish
Anchovies, Butterfish, Catfish, Clam, Domestic Crab, Crawfish/Crayfish, Atlantic Croaker, Flounder, Atlantic Haddock, Hake, Herring, N. Atlantic Mackerel, Mullet, Oyster, Ocean Perch, Plaice, Pollock, Canned Salmon, Fresh Salmon, Sardine, Scallop, American Shad, Shrimp, Pacific Sole, Squid (Calamari), Tilapia, Fresh Water Trout, Whitefish, Whiting.

MODERATE MERCURY FISH-Eat six servings or less per month:
Bass (Striped, Black), Carp, Alaskan Cod, White Pacific Croaker, Atlantic Halibut, Pacific Halibut, Silverside Jacksmelt, Lobster, Mahi Mahi, Monkfish, Freshwater Perch, Sablefish, Skate, Snapper,Canned chunk light Tuna, Skipjack Tuna, Weakfish (Sea Trout)

HIGH MERCURY FISH-Eat three servings or less per month:
Bluefish, Grouper, Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf), Chilean Sea Bass, Canned Albacore Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna

HIGHEST MERCURY FISH-Avoid eating:
King Mackerel, Marlin, Orange Roughy, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish8, Big eye and Ahi Tuna

Photo Credit: Jurveston at Flickr for Creative Commons

3 comments
  1. William Furr

    MODERATE MERCURY FISH: …canned chunk light tuna…

    Whoops! I ate tuna salad sandwiches for lunch practically every day last year. I’ve since stopped, but that would have been more than three times the recommended amount over the course of a year.

  2. Jonathan Aluzas

    I actually knew someone who had mercury poisoning and she suffered from headaches and chronic fatigue. It’s sad that we’ve polluted things so badly that even the food we eat has become tarnished. Hopefully we’ll establish some standards for harvesting seafood.

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