Medical Articles

Fish High in Mercury

Mercury levels in seafood have been talked about quite a bit for the last several years. It's unfortunate that one of the healthiest foods we can eat has been tainted with contaminants from our actions. Because of the health benefits associated with eating fish it is important to include it in your diet, but it may be advisable to avoid fish high in mercury. This can be done by choosing a seafood supplier that harvests fish from uncontaminated waters and performs routine testing on their supplies. There are certain types of fish, however, that require more diligence on our part. They can still be eaten; we just need to do more fact checking on these ones before consuming them.

Even small fish may have traces of mercury in them, but it's what happens up the food chain that causes the biggest issues. As these little guys are eaten by the next ladder up the chain, that mercury is now consolidated in one fish. Many types of that fish are eaten by the next bigger fish, and this mercury becomes more and more concentrated with each level. That's why the largest predatory fish come with the biggest mercury concerns.

So on the very top of the high concern list you find:

  • Shark
  • King Mackerel
  • Orange Roughy
  • Marlin
  • Grouper
  • Tilefish
  • Swordfish

When choosing these fish, if the supplier can not verify that his catch has been tested to show no harmful levels of mercury, assume they are contaminated and move on.

In the next group, you can eat these types of fish sparingly if you don't know whether they've been tested. You should assume some level of contamination, but it's lower than the first group so you could eat these fish a few times a month and still be ok.

This list includes:

  • Halibut
  • Tuna
  • Lobster
  • Bluefish
  • Saltwater Bass
  • Croaker
  • Sea Trout

As a note, some of the least contaminated, and therefore safest fish to eat include salmon, herring, sardines, and tilapia. Salmon and sardines being such an incredible source of vitamin D and Omega-3's, feel free to eat these as you please.

Seafood has been shown over and over again to be incredibly beneficial for your health. It does not need to be avoided because of mercury concerns. Knowing what fish are high in mercury and researching your supplier before consuming them is all you need to do to enjoy a worry-free plate of fish.


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