Long-declared to be “brain food”, fish tastes great and is good for you. Whether you’re enjoying plank-grilled salmon, pan-fried haddock, or a tuna sandwich, you get a delivery of highly beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. But with the good, comes the bad. Due to a build-up of mercury pollution over time, our beloved seafood has become a vessel for methyl mercury.
When methyl mercury enters our bodies through seafood, it acts as a neurotoxin that interferes with the brain and nervous system. Women of childbearing age and children are most at risk to high mercury levels. Seafood that contains low levels of mercury can be eaten fairly regularly. It’s when seafood contains higher levels of mercury and is consumed regularly that mercury poisoning becomes a possibility.
So, how do you know which fish are safe to eat regularly? Our chart divides seafood up into four categories: least mercury, moderate mercury, high mercury, and highest mercury. Some of the fish with the lowest mercury levels include tilapia, whitefish, and Atlantic haddock. The moderate to high range, which can be enjoyed three to six times per month, includes most types of tuna, Alaskan cod, and lobster. It is not recommended to consume fish in the highest mercury category.
The issue of mercury pollution is on the radar of many environmental organizations, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be taken care of anytime soon. In the meantime, enjoy seafood responsibly by making yourself aware of which fish contain higher levels of mercury.