September 28, 2020

Choosing Fish Low in Mercury

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Brandi Propas is the newest addition to the International Medical Group. She is a registered dietician and her services are a welcome complement to the clinic.

Heard that fish is good for you but concerned about the mercury levels? Don’t despair. There are many safe and tasty fish that are low in mercury that will still give you the Omega-3 fatty acids you need.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for overall health as research has shown that this type of fat can help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower triglycerides and reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important for brain, nerve and eye development in the fetus, infants and children.

To get the most benefit from Omega-3s it is recommended that you consume 2 servings of fish per week, or 150g (5 oz) of fish per week.  Fatty cold water fish, such as sardines, mackerel, wild salmon, and trout are the best sources for Omega-3 fatty acids.

What about the mercury?

We should all limit our exposure to mercury but women who may become pregnant, are pregnant, or breastfeeding, and infants and children need to avoid regular consumption of higher-mercury fish and choose the low-mercury fish instead because of the harm mercury can do to a child’s developing brain.

Generally, fish that contain higher amounts of mercury are large, predatory fish. These fish have had long lives and therefore more time to accumulate mercury. These include:

Tuna steaks

Canned “white”, Albacore or Bluefin Tuna  (Note: “light” canned tuna is low in mercury )

Swordfish, Shark, Marlin and Tilefish steaks

Orange Roughy

Walleye/Pickerel

Grouper

Escolar

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should have no more than 150g (5oz) of these fish per month. Children should have no more than 75g to 125g (2.5 -4.5oz) per month. Men and other women can have up to 150g (5oz) per week.

What fish are low in Mercury?

There are still numerous low mercury fish that can be enjoyed on a regular basis. When looking for a quick and healthy lunch idea, opt for “light” canned tuna to make a salad or sandwich with. Another economical fish choice is sardines. Chose sardines packed in water for an even healthier option. Feeling like something grilled or baked? Pacific cod, halibut and yellowtail Snapper are all tasty, low mercury fish. Other low mercury fish options include: arctic char, flounder, haddock, mackerel, scallops, shrimp, sole, tilapia and trout.  Fresh, frozen or canned wild or Pacific salmon (not Atlantic or farmed) is another great option for a low mercury fish and has the added bonus of being very high in Omega-3 fatty acids.

With all these great low mercury fish to choose from it is easy to enjoy the recommended 2 servings of fish per week.

Tuna Casserole Recipe

Mix together in a bowl:

2 cans LIGHT tuna, drained (read label carefully to make sure it is “light” tuna)

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 egg

1/2 sweet pepper

2 stalks celery, finely diced

1 small onion, finely diced

1 tbsp lemon juice

Spices to taste: garlic, paprika, tarragon, parsley flakes

Rub the inside of a casserole dish with vegetable oil. Add the tuna mixture, and spread it out smoothly with a spatula. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Cover with lid or tin foil. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Makes 4 servings

Recipe adapted from: Region of Waterloo Public Health

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