Stop Eating Tuna! + Learn What Fish Are Healthiest + Easy Sardine Recipe (DF, GF)
I am always encouraging my clients, friends and family to get more omega-3's in their diet... mainly for their anti-inflammatory benefits. Inflammation underlies every major chronic disease - diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and more, including obesity! So we can ALL benefit from more of these powerful fats.
One of the best sources of omega-3 fats are fish. But hold your horses before you reach for that tuna fish sandwich, not all fish are great to eat. The larger the size of the fish and the longer its life, the more toxins it accumulates in its flesh over its lifespan, especially mercury and PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls).
Mercury is a heavy metal that accumulates in our bodies over time (is not easily excreted) and can become toxic. Mercury toxicity is associated with the following health problems:
Nervous system damage
Delayed or impaired brain development
According to the U.S. EPA, more than 75,000 babies (as high as 250,000 babies per the NRDC) are born each year with a higher risk of mercury-induced learning disabilities.
TEST YOUR BLOOD LEVEL: You can get your blood mercury level checked in the US to make sure it is under 5.0 mcg/liter.
27% of fish from over 290 streams around the US contain more than the safe mercury limit of 0.5 parts per million (ppm).
33% of fish caught on the New Jersey shore had more than 0.5 ppm
89% of people tested in one study had blood mercury levels higher than the maximum safe limit
Exposure to heavy metals has been linked with conditions involving the brain like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression and anxiety.
Polychlorinated biphenyls are highly toxic man-made chemicals that, while banned in the United States in 1977, still pervade our environment to this day.
The EPA classifies PCB's as "probable human carcinogens" and animal studies have found PCBs to damage the circulatory, nervous, immune, endocrine, and digestive systems. Also, infants born to pregnant women exposed to PCB's and other chemicals may lower birth weights, reduce head size, delay muscle development, memory and learning. Yikes. NO THANK YOU.
Safer Fish (according to the Natural Resources Defense Council):
These are the fish I eat regularly and encourage you to as well... about 2-4x/week. I've listed available numbers on mercury ppm for each type.
Anchovies - 0.017 mercury ppm
Haddock (Atlantic) - 0.055 mercury ppm
Herring - - 0.084 mercury ppm
Mackerel (North Atlantic/Chub only) -
Salmon, Wild Alaskan (wild Atlantic salmon is an endangered species so the label is lying if it says this!) - 0.022 mercury ppm
Sardines (my favorite brand is Season... Costco sells them less than anywhere else and in bulk, yay!) - 0.013 mercury ppm
Other seafood choices are also low in mercury and other contaminants (though don't provide as many omega-3's):
Oysters (One of my favorite types of seafood! Oyster Rockefeller anyone? YUM.) - 0.011 mercury ppm
Scallops - 0.003 mercury ppm
Shrimp - 0.001 mercury ppm
FYI - "Organic" labels on fish don't mean much so I don't seek that out. California doesn't even allow "organic" fish to be sold yet!
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label ensures a fishery follows healthy management of the fish populations and ecosystems so this identification is more important to me.