As a great source of protein packed full of good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and B vitamins, fish is a very important part of a heart-healthy diet. However, nearly all fish contain at least trace amounts of mercury, a contaminant. When mercury is eaten in excess, it may potentially affect brain development and the nervous system, especially in pregnant women and growing children.
According to the FDA, women and growing children can avoid the risk of overexposure by following 3 recommendations:
1. Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury.
2. Eat up to 12 oz (about 2 meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury such as shrimp, canned light tina, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
3. Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and costal areas. If no advice is available, eat up to 6 oz per week.
I believe the benefits of moderate seafood consumption, even during pregnancy, far outweigh the potential harmful affects that mercury found in seafood may have on the human body.
For a more extensive list of mercury levels in fish, please see the FDA’s List