We are going to go over the top 3 fish to eat and the fish that you may want to avoid. Fish can become contaminated in a number of ways – size, species, age and location determine contamination levels. Heavy Metals: Mercury and Lead-
Mercury is known to cause many health problems and is especially dangerous for children and women who are or may become pregnant. It can take 12-18 months for mercury to pass through the body, so women who may become pregnant should also work hard to avoid mercury. The nervous system and kidneys are the main targets of mercury. Children exposed to mercury may cause mental development problems, including coordination and learning handicaps. Anyone can experience mercury health effects, including: fatigue, dizziness, numbness or tingling, memory and coordination problems, irritability.If enough mercury is consumed, permanent brain and kidney damage can occur. Large, older, or predatory fish have more time and eat more contaminated foods, allowing heavy metals to bioaccumulate.
PCBs, dioxins, DDT and other chemicals can leach from factories or garbage into our waters. These chemicals are related to cancer risk. Bottom dwelling fish are the most susceptible to these toxins, including the American eel, sea trout and wild striped bass.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster is one of the most widely discussed radiation events that has an impact on what we eat. Radiation is known to cause cancer, so avoiding foods high in radioactive compounds is important. Researching your fish choices online is the best way to avoid consuming fish that come from an area high in radiation.
Choosing Fish for Your Family-
The Environmental Defense Fund Seafood Selector is a great benefit when deciding what fish to avoid and what fish to load up on. Given the above concerns while also weighing in health and deliciousness, here is the list of the top three fish:
(1) Pacific Sardines (US and Canada):
-Low in mercury
-High in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12, B2, B3, D, selenium, phosphorus, calcium, copper and more
-They are inexpensive and easy to find canned.
(2) Wild Alaskan Salmon:
-Salmon is one of the most delicious fish, rich in healthy fats.
-Low in mercury and sustainably fished
-Contains bioactive peptides that may support for cartilage, insulin and inflammation.
-High in vitamins B12, B3, D, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, B6 and many others.
-Low in mercury and one of the most sustainably fished seafood sources out there
-High in selenium, omega-3s, B12, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and many others.
Seafood to Avoid:
Due to toxins and sustainability, it is best to stay away from these types of seafood.
-Anything this high up on the food chain is going to be a red flag when it comes to toxins.Predators consume other fish and their toxins. The higher up on the food chain, the higher the levels of mercury and toxins in the fish. Adding to the health dangers is the unsustainable fishing practices. Sharks have long gestation periods, taking a long time to mature and have offspring. This makes overfishing or depleting their numbers easy to do. Most shark species are experiencing a large decline due to fishing, being caught as bycatch and for fins in Asia.
A favorite among many sushi goers is unfortunately very high in mercury and horrible for sustainability.
Some tuna is much better for you and the environment than others. If you do consume tuna, US yellowfin is the best option. Canned albacore tuna is high in mercury and should be avoided. Bluefin and imported albacore are the worst tuna options for health and sustainability – do your best to avoid these.
Canned light tuna is better for you than canned white tuna when it comes to mercury, with about ⅓ the mercury content of canned white tuna.
(3) Farmed Tilapia:
Farmed tilapia in the US is often imported from China and Taiwan where the conditions and chemicals used are very troublesome.
All swordfish, being large hunters, are high in mercury. They are also fished very unsustainably, with large bycatch of sea turtles, sharks and seabirds.
1. Mussel nutrition and health benefits
2. EDF Seafood Selector
5. Mercury in Seafood
6. Common questions about contaminants in seafood
7. The lingering effects of fukushima on fish