Choosing Safe Seafood

Seafood is one of nature’s best sources of disease-fighting omega-3 fatty acids, but some varieties pack high levels of mercury and other toxins. Is eating fish really worth the risk?

Choosing Safe Seafood

Yes, say many leading health experts. In 2006, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a report examining fish safety. The study determined that eating one or two servings of fish per week reduces the threat of a fatal heart attack by 36 percent and the overall risk of dying by 17 percent. The authors flatly state that “the benefits of fish intake exceed the potential risks.”

Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating at least two Food Guide Servings of 75 grams or 1/2 cup of fish each week. Choose fish such as char, salmon, herring, Atlantic mackerel, sardines, and rainbow trout.

Health Canada recommends we limit consumption of fresh and frozen tuna, shark, swordfish, escolar, marlin, and orange roughy because of the amount of mercury they contain. Their recommendations are as follows:

▪ Adults should limit their intake to 150 grams a week.

▪ Pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and women who might become pregnant should limit their consumption to 150 grams per month.

▪ Children aged five to eleven can eat 125 grams per month and children aged one through four should not eat more than 75 grams per month.

Health Canada recommends the following Food Guide Servings when consuming canned albacore tuna*.

▪ Women who are or who may become pregnant, or who are breastfeeding, can eat up to four servings each week.

▪ Children between one and four years old can eat up to one serving each week and children from five to eleven can eat up to two servings each week.

* This warning only applies to canned albacore tuna, which is generally a larger fish and is not the same as canned light tuna. Canned light tuna contains other species of tuna such as skipjack, yellowfin, and tongol, which are smaller and relatively low in mercury.

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