the deal with mercury in seafood? Health experts tell us to
eat more fish for the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty
acids, which are critical for brain and eye development during
pregnancy and young childhood. Yet fish can also contain
mercury — a metal in the environment that is toxic to the
brain and nervous system.
January of 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
along with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued
updated advice for how much and what types of fish are safe
for us to consume, according to an article on this topic by
registered dietitian nutritionist Eleese Cunningham in the
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Here are
fish contain more mercury. Makes sense. Mercury occurs
naturally in soil and water and traces are found in all fish.
But it’s the older, larger predatory fish — those that eat
smaller fish — that accumulate more mercury. Fish known for
their high mercury levels are best avoided by pregnant and
breastfeeding women and young children, says the FDA. They
include shark, swordfish, orange roughy, bigeye tuna, marlin,
king mackerel and tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico. (Tilefish
from the Atlantic Ocean have much lower levels of mercury.)
benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks. Omega-3 fatty
acids in fish, particularly the one called docohexaenoic acid
or DHA, is vital for optimal development of the eyes and
brain. Yet a recent analysis found that 50 percent of pregnant
women eat far less seafood than the recommended 8 ounces a
are safe ways to reap the nutritional benefits of fish and
minimize mercury exposure as well. Revised guidelines by the
FDA include a chart of "Best" and "Good"
fish choices based on mercury content.
choices includes cod, crab, salmon, shrimp, tilapia and canned
light tuna. "Good" choices include halibut,
Monkfish, ocean striped bass, albacore/white tuna and
yellowfin tuna. Find the complete chart at fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm393070.htm.
and breastfeeding women, young children and women of
childbearing age (16 to 49 years) are advised to eat 2 to 3
servings a week from the "Best Choices" list or 1
serving a week from the "Good Choices" list. (One
serving is about the size of your palm, or about 4 ounces for
adults and 2 ounces for children.)
a question: What’s the difference between albacore (white)
tuna and canned light tuna? Albacore, or white tuna, is larger
and lives longer than the fish generally used in canned light
tuna, says the EPA. Canned light tuna is often a mix of a
variety of smaller tuna species such as skipjack.
remember, says the FDA, "fish" refers to all fish,
including shellfish. Enjoy a variety.