Essential Health Info

Fish- Healthy Choices & Consumption

fish

Eating fish has several benefits.  However, unlimited amounts of fish consumption can be harmful to your body.  For example, the element mercury is a liquid metal found in fish.  This is toxic to the human body.  You might be wondering what types of fish have mercury?  Let’s take a look at the kinds of fish that carry mercury.

Fish- Methylmercury

Fishes are one of the most abundant protein sources in the world.  Eating fish will give your body a reservoir of omega-3 fatty acids among many nutrients.  However, mercury is airborne from industrial processes and pollution and accumulates on the surfaces of streams and oceans (Blake, 2019, pp. 1–3).  Therefore, mercury becomes the toxic form of methylmercury (pp. 176).  Naturally, fishes absorb it through water or by eating microorganisms that have ingested the methylmercury.  Larger fishes consume the most of this toxin.  Choices to avoid that have the highest level of mercury are:

  • king mackerel
  • marlin
  • orange roughy
  • shark
  • swordfish
  • tilefish (Gulf of Mexico)
  • Tuna, bigeye

Food and Drug Administration & EPA

The FDA and EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, regulate all commercial fishing.  Specifically, the EPA oversees the freshwater fishing that is recreational.  Family members and friends can catch larger fishes that have an advisory due to mercury (pp. 176).  However, the agency will recommend that if you want to eat these recreationally caught costal or ocean fishes you must adhere to the local or state health departments (pp. 176).  For more information on FDA and EPA advisory, view these websites www.FDA.gov/fishadvice and www.EPA.gov/fishadvice. 

Fishes Choices to Consider

We eat fishes for their protein and omega- 3 fatty acids.  These are great choices to eat such as Black Sea Bass, Catfish, Crab, Clam, and Lobster.   Also, these are good choices to eat like Oyster, Salmon, Sardine, Flounder, Shrimp, Tilapia, and light canned Tuna (pp. 176).  You can always use the palm of your hand to determine the amount of servings.  For adults, 4 oz. is a  good size to eat and will typically fit the palm of their hand.  For children 4-7 years old, 2 oz. is a good size and will typically fit their hand.  During pregnancy, women should follow the same guidelines.  Make sure you review the FDA and EPA websites if you are recreationally fishing.  Moreover, most fishes sold in the market place are safe to consume!

Author: Jamie Moore Sam Houston State University Pre-Nursing

References

Blake, J. S. (2019). Nutrition & You (5th Edition) (5th ed.). Pearson.

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