Have you ever wondered how much tuna you can safely eat in a week?
We all know that seafood is good for us in so many ways. It’s high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it’s a great source of protein and is high in vitamins and minerals, which is why Health Canada recommends that we eat at least two servings of fish each week.
But some seafood is high in mercury, high enough that if consumed frequently can lead to health problems like nervous system damage, headaches, poor concentration and memory problems (to name just a few).
Mercury exposure is especially damaging foetuses and very young children, affecting a child’s ability to learn and concentrate.
So how do we get all of the benefits of a diet high in seafood without ingesting more mercury than our bodies can handle?
Environmental Working Group has just released new research on mercury content in fish and, based on this research, has come up with recommendations for fish consumption. They have developed a list of fish that is in omega-3s and low in mercury to help us get all of the health benefits while managing our consumption of fish with higher mercury content.
The “best” list (fish that is highest in omega-3s and very low in mercury): wild salmon, sardines, mussels, rainbow trout and mackerel.
“Good” list: Oysters, Pollock and herring are considered “good” because they’re a good source of omega-3s and are low in mercury.
“Avoid” list: Swordfish and some species of fresh and frozen tuna, including sushi grade, are on the avoid list because they’re too high in mercury to safely eat regularly.
Ultimately the amount of seafood you can safely consume depends on your weight, age and gender. To take the work out of it EWG has created a Seafood Calculator. You simply plug in your weight, age and gender and the calculator serves up your guidelines.
For my weight, age and gender I can safely eat up to three servings of canned light tuna a week, if I eat no other seafood because each serving accounts for 32% of my mercury limit. Same goes for sole. I can eat haddock once a week and canned Albacore tuna can be eaten once per week, if no other seafood is eaten.
According to the calculator children and pregnant women should not make canned light or Albacore tuna part of their regular diet. Tuna steaks and sushi and swordfish should never be eaten by pregnant women and children.
Most seafood it’s safe for adults to eat up to three servings a week and for children to eat up to twice per week. For more information or to try out the calculator visit EWG.