Eating seafood a couple times a week is healthy, right? Yes, if it is the right seafood. No, if it is the wrong seafood.
“It’s a sad fact that we’ve more or less made an entire healthy food group toxic due to manmade pollution,” says Dr. Mercola.
Unfortunately, most of the seafood available in our grocery stores, restaurants, and even health food markets are contaminated with mercury, PCBs, antibiotics, and other drugs.
The benefits of eating fish can easily be negated by eating seafood that is highly contaminated with mercury. Mercury is toxic to the human brain, kidney, liver, heart, and nervous system. Research has shown that people who eat a lot of fish that are high in mercury can experience nervous system damage and can suffer from a variety of ailments like sleep disturbance, headache, fatigue, difficulty with memory and concentration, poor coordination, and neuropathy. Mercury is especially dangerous for pregnant women.
PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, are industrial products or chemicals. Even though they were banned in the USA in 1979, they are still in use in other countries where much of our seafood comes from.
Antibiotics are not permitted in seafood farming and it is illegal to import seafood that has been feed antibiotics. Due to lax oversight and regulation enforcement, our seafood is still found to have antibiotics. In a recent test by Consumer Reports, antibiotics were detected in 11 of 342 samples of imported raw farmed shrimp from stores like Kroger, Costco, and Walmart.
And there’s a whole ‘nuther aspect to consider: the sustainability of seafood and its impact on our environment. For more info about those important issues, check out the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Still, seafood is a healthy source of protein and other vital nutrients. Read on to learn how to select the healthiest seafood.
Tips to Select Seafood that is Healthy
- Eat Wild Caught seafood whenever possible. Seafood farms aka aquaculture can be a breeding ground for bacteria and disease. Many fish farms feed their seafood, not only antibiotics, but also GMO corn and soy, which is not a natural diet for marine life. The most common farm-raised seafoods are shrimp, tilapia, and catfish. Although you can buy wild caught shrimp, I have not been able to find wild caught tilapia or catfish.
- Buy American seafood because we have stricter fishing and farming regulations than other countries.
- Eat lower on the food chain. Smaller fish tend to be better for your health because they contain less mercury. Great choices include squid, oysters, mackerel, sardines, and mussels.
- Use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch guide to learn which fisheries provide the most sustainable seafood choices. Note that Consumer Reports, the Environmental Working Group, and the NRDC recommend this guide.
- Look for the Marine Stewardship Council label which certifies seafood that is caught or raised in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner. Their label looks like this:
- When buying canned seafood, be careful as cans often are lined with a BPA-plastic coating (the label won’t tell you). Look for seafood packed in shelf-stable, flexible pouches. About 40 percent of all US exposure to mercury comes from eating contaminated tuna from the Pacific, and roughly 75 percent of all human exposure to mercury in general comes from eating fish.
Which is the Healthiest Seafood?
Based on information from the NRDC, Environmental Working Group, the Monterey Bay Aquarium and various other sources, here is a compilation of seafood recommendations.
|Crawfish||Tuna, Canned Chunk Light||Grouper||high in mercury|
|Flounder||Snapper||Tilefish||high in mercury|
|Sardines||HIgh in healthy|
|Pollock||used in imitation|
crab, fish sticks
& fast food fish
|Orange Roughy||high in mercury|
|Alaska Salmon||Alaska salmon|
cannot be farm-
is a good choice too.
|Oysters||King Mackerel||high in mercury|
|Clams||Mahi Mahi||Tuna||high in mercury,
especially Big Eye,
|Sockeye Salmon||Sockeye salmon|
cannot be farm
|Lobster||Swordfish||high in mercury|
|Mussels||Herring||Shark||high in mercury|
|Rainbow Trout||Halibut||Tilapia||typically farm-raised|
|Atlantic Mackerel||Alaskan Cod||Catfish||typically farm-raised|
|Anchovies||Seabass, Chilean||high in mercury|
low in mercury
Here’s your simple change for the day: Learn which seafood is healthy and which to avoid.
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