As we all know from a nutritional point of view , seafood is one of the most nutrient foods on the planet: It is rich on protein and it’s loaded with important nutrients, such as protein and vitamin D. Fish is also the world’s best source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are incredibly important for the body and brain. Unfortunately, though, some types of fish also contain mercury, which can affect a fetus or child’s neurological development. Fish products have been shown to contain varying amounts of heavy metals, particularly mercury and fat-soluble pollutants from water pollution. Species of fish that are long-lived and high on the food chain, such as marlin, tuna, shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), contain higher concentrations of mercury than others. Since the contaminant stays in your body for more than a year, it’s crucial that you avoid ingesting it especially if you are planning to become pregnant.
All fish contain some mercury, but here are some types you should definitely avoid consuming.
BAD CHOICE: SHARK
Arctic sharks are now one of the most contaminated animals on Earth. They’re paying the long-term price for toxic pollutants that humans released decades ago.Shark is at the top of the food chain, it consumes other fish to survive—and oftentimes, those other fish have already been contaminated with mercury, which means sharks’ levels veer into dangerously high territory.
GOOD CHOICE: WILD PACIFIC SALMON
One of the main reasons fish consumption is increasing in the UK is the desire to eat more healthily. Of all the different types of fish, salmon has received the most praise for being a nutritional marvel. A four-ounce serving scores high when it comes to vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and flavor. All salmon sport a stellar nutritional profile, but wild Pacific salmon are considered healthier than the farmed variety. Per the EPA, you should stick to no more than 12 ounces per week if you’re of childbearing age or are pregnant since all fish contain at least trace amounts of mercury,
DON’T EAT: SWORDFISH
Swordfish is also a top predator that feeds on other fish tainted with mercury.
INSTEAD EAT: SARDINES
This inexpensive option is a nutrition superstar, whether you get it fresh or in a tin. Sardines are loaded with omega-3s and are naturally high in vitamin D.
DON’T EAT: KING MACKEREL
This voracious predator is on the do-not-eat list…unless you want to risk mercury poisoning.
These teeny fish pack big flavor and are perfect in salads and pasta dishes. Besides having high omega-3 levels, anchovies are also rich in iron.
DON’T EAT: TILEFISH
There are many types of this fish, but the EPA makes no distinction between them and warns that women and small children should avoid any and all varieties.
EAT: FARMED RAINBOW TROUT
Lake trout have a higher risk of being contaminated, but the farmed variety get a “best choice” rating from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, a consumer watch group. Trout also packs lots of omega-3s and protein.
DON’T EAT: ALBACORE TUNA OR TUNA STEAKS
The rules regarding tuna are tricky: Albacore tuna racks up a medium level of mercury. So if you’re going to have it, the EPA advises limiting yourself to no more than one six-ounce serving per week. Same goes for tuna steak, which is also considered medium-level on the mercury scale.
EAT: CANNED LIGHT TUNA
The good news is that if for some reason you can’t avoid Tuna consumption, the canned version is considered low-mercury—and it’s also loaded with Omega-3s.