Safe Fish Consumption

Tips on Safe Fish Consumption

Safe Fish Consumption.

Guides on Safe Fish Consumption.


Although almost all fish and shellfish are found to be contaminated with mercury, we cannot just close our eyes to the benefits they present, the rich protein content with high acid amino, all come in low saturated fat.  Fish and shellfish are also protein alternative that comes from a more eco friendly source, compared to the U.S. main protein source: beef that cause huge land clearing.   Discarding fish from our protein diet is certainly not a wise idea, especially in concern with the health benefits and the attempt of reducing deforestation.

Here are some tips to make your fish consumption safe. These tips are specially addressed to young children, women of childbearing age, pregnant women and nursing as they are most vulnerable to mercury effect. :

Choose Healthy Fish. The safest way, if possible, choose fish or shellfish from uncontaminated waterbodies which are not listed in the DOH advisories.

Know the mercury level of the fish: Choose fish and shellfish with low mercury content instead of ones with high-mercury content. Also see: mercury level in sushi

Consume only recommended portion: Eat not more than the recommended portion detailed below. The recommended portion is safe and will not change the level of methylmercury in the body much at all. Consuming fish over than the recommended portion will have risk  especially the most mercury- sensitive group. Women in their childbearing years should realize that it may take many months to significantly reduce your body burden of mercury.

Choose smaller fish instead of large ones. Large fish usually absorb larger amount of mercury, and when they eat smaller contaminated fish, the mercury content increases.

Smart cooking. Unfortunately cooking the fish or shellfish does not destroy the mercury, but you can reduce the contaminants by eating the fillet only as contaminants accumulate in the fatty areas of fish. Trim and skin the fish properly, remove the fatty parts, the belly flap, the line along the sides and the fat along the back and under the skin.  Grill or bake you fish, will help more fat drips away. When cooking crab or lobster, remove the soft green tissue eat the soft green tissue, as it found to be containing high levels of chemical contaminants, like mercury and PCBs.

Eat a variety of low-mercury fish a week. Each fish or shellfish contains particular nutrient, vitamin,   and minerals. Having a variety fish will  make a healthy combination, besides avoiding tend of consuming high-mercury level only.

Recommended Fish Consumption due to Mercury Level.

Here is guidance of recommended fish consumption with considering mercury level from The Washington State Department of Health, with taking note that:

1. The mercury- level classification (least mercury to highest mercury) is verified according to the mercury levels found in the flesh of tested fish done by The Food and Drug Administration :

  • Least mercury: Less than 0.09 parts per million
  • Moderate mercury: From 0.09 to 0.29 parts per million
  • High mercury: From 0.3 to 0.49 parts per million
  • Highest mercury: More than .5 parts per million

2.  One “Meal”  is approximately the size and thickness of your hand or 1 ounce for every 20 pounds of body weight. For example : an adult  weights 160 lb. can consume up to 8 oz. per meal, while a child of 80 lb. consume the maximum 4 oz. per meal.

Low-Mercury Fish: Save to be consumed for 2 or 3 meals per week

Anchovies, Butterfish, Catfish, Clams, Cod (Pacific) (Atlantic), Crab (Blue, King, Snow) (US, Canada) (imported King),Crab-Imitation, Crayfish (imported farmed), Flounder/Sole (Pacific) (Atlantic), Herring, Mackerel (canned),  Oysters, Pollock/Fish sticks, Salmon (fresh, canned),  Chinook (King) (coastal, Alaska),  Chum (Keta), Coho (Silver), Farmed, Pink (Humpy),  Sockeye (Red), Sardines, Scallops, Shrimp/Prawns (US, Canada) (imported), Squid/Calamari, Tilapia (US, Central/South America) (China, Taiwan),Trout, and Tuna (canned light).

Moderate- Mercury Fish: Saved to be consumed only once a week:

Black sea bass, Chilean sea bass, Chinook salmon (Puget Sound), Croaker (white, Pacific), Halibut (Pacific) (Atlantic), Lobster (US, Canada) (imported Spiny Caribbean), Mahi mahi (imported longline), Monkfish, Rockfish/Red snapper (trawl-caught),  Sablefish/Black Cod,  Tuna, Albacore (fresh, canned white) (WA, OR, CA troll/pole) (longline - except Hawaii).


High-Level Mercury Fish.

Women who are or may become pregnant, nursing mothers, and young children should NOT eat:

Mackerel (King), Marlin (imported), Shark, Swordfish (imported), Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic), Tuna Steak, Bluefin Bigeye (imported longline), and Yellowfin (imported longline).

Also avoid eating : Chilean Sea Bass, Monkfish, Shark, Bluefin, since they are overfished farmed, or caught using methods which are harmful to marine life and/or environment.

Additional tips to choose healthy fish:

  • Fish containing high omega-3 fatty acids: Herring, Salmon, Chinook, Trout, Chum, Black Sea Bass, Chinook salmon, Anchovies, Coho, Pink, Red Sockeye, Sardines, Canned Mackerel, Oysters,
  • Consuming fish is useful in reducing dietary fat and controlling weight; if this is the reason you eat fish, then steam, grill or boil the fish or shellfish instead of frying it, which uses oil.
  • Find lots of choices below :

If you are a fish lover, then find related topics :

- Mercury Level On Fish and Shellfish

- Choosing The Right Tuna

You might also interested to read other protein source : Soybean and  its healthy, eco friendly products, Tofu and Tempeh.

Source :

The Natural Resources Defense Council

Environmental Protection Agency

The Washington  Department of Health

The Food and Drug Administration.

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