Fish is healthy, right?
Sure. It is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids and is often thought to be a healthy part of our diets.
The fish you and your kids eat is also highly likely to be contaminated with mercury, which can harm your unborn baby or small child.
Although there have been warnings before about eating certain types of fish that have very high levels of mercury, the FDA and EPA have recently expanded the warning to include other fish that have lower levels of mercury, but which can still be harmful.
Among the warnings are that women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children should:
- not eat Shark, Swordfish, King Mackerel, or Tilefish because they contain high levels of mercury
- only eat up to 12 ounces (two average meals for an adult) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, including shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. This includes fish sticks and "fast-food" fish sandwiches.
- since albacore (white) tuna and tuna steaks have more mercury than canned light tuna, you should not eat more than one serving of albacore tuna or tuna steak each week.
- only eat up to six ounces (one average meal for an adult) per week of fish you catch from local waters, but don't consume any other fish during that week, unless you are sure that they have low levels of mercury.
Keep in mind that the average serving size of fish for a young child's meal is much lower, at only 2-3 ounces a serving.
Also remember that these warnings are for an average number of servings each week. If you or your child eats an extra serving one week, then just cut back for the next week.
With all of the warning, you may be considering simply eliminating fish from your family's diet altogether. That would be a mistake though, since fish can be a good part of a healthy and balanced diet. Just keep the warnings in mind and don't serve too much fish.