When Eating Fish Isn’t So Good for Your Health

When Eating Fish Isn't So Good for Your Health

For the most part, we all know eating fish is generally good for your health due in part to the good heart health that is provided by an essential nutrient, Omega 3 Fatty Acids. But, what about the other concerns regarding the nutrients such as Mercury that can be present in the water your fish is coming from? And, how much is too much fish to eat? What fish is available to us in Wisconsin? Let’s look at these specific issues.

Best Fish Types and Sourcing

One of the biggest concerns for most people is whether or not to consume farmed fish and shellfish, or if wild fish is preferred? It is true that the farmed fish cannot replace the amount of or the variety of fish from the wild but it can certainly add to it.

The best fish choices will have to do with the purity, freshness, and availability. There are many varieties of different fish. Here are some varieties that you may want to look for:

  • Amberjack
  • Bass
  • Bluefish
  • Catfish
  • Cod
  • Crab
  • Flounder
  • Grouper
  • Haddock
  • Halibut
  • Lobster
  • Mackerel
  • Mussels
  • Orange Roughy
  • Oysters
  • Pike
  • Pollack
  • Redfish
  • Salmon
  • Seabass
  • Snapper
  • Sturgeon
  • Swordfish
  • Tilapia
  • Trout
  • Walleye
  • Whitefish

How to make sure that the fish you are eating is healthy for you and protects the environment.

There is a lot of information today about the concerns for the seafood industry and its safety. Oceans, lakes, and rivers are polluted and are affecting fish in ways that are being fully researched today but not fully understood. An enormous amount of fish are harvested every day leaving supplies of fish limited and getting smaller every year. Overall, most fish lovers say that they are most worried about “mercury levels” and rightly so, as they continue to increase, primarily because of the coal we burn. But many people today are taking steps to become active participants in the process of sustainable-food and are beginning to ask more questions about the fish they eat and ask for information about the fish, where it is from, and its potential hazards.

What is Mercury besides a mineral?

Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that interrupts brain function and harms the central nervous system. It’s particularly concerning for pregnant women and children. Small fish, such as scallops and sardines, contain less mercury and larger fish, like swordfish, contain the most. The official chart with acceptable Mercury levels, from the least amount to the highest amount of Mercury can be found at any of these sources:

Other Recommendations for Safe Fish:

  • Buy in America. Americans consume 5-billion or more pounds of seafood every year, and 90% comes from China and Vietnam. The USDA inspects only about 2% of the fish that comes into the USA. Eat what is caught close to home.
  • Shop for Diversity. Find the local species that can be fresh every day to consume. The fresher the fish is that what you actually eat will be very healthy.
  • Eat Local. Community-supported fisheries, where customers pay for and pick up their fish every week, is becoming popular. Visit local catch.org.
  • Be Vigilant. Buy from retailers that you know and trust. Because we are close to many lakes and rivers, we in Milwaukee will have good sources of local catch. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch is a good source of countrywide information on the fish industry.
  • Use Good Tools. Monitor distribution and supply of the fisheries nearby. Best of all, eat healthy and eat well! But know what you are doing. It will take some work on your part.

Rita Larsen Registered Dietitian at Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Rita Larsen, RDN, CD; Guest Contributor

Rita is certified in Positive Psychology, University of Penn; has a BS in Dietetics from Kansas State University; and an Internship and Masters at the Indiana University Medical Center.

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