Can You Eat Too Much Fish?

Can you eat too much fish? Many fish like tuna contain high levels of mercury, lead, antibiotics, PCB's, and food dyes, so pregnant or breastfeeding women and small children should limit their intake. The...

The fish phenomenon has been unleashed. Health experts have been pushing fish as the way to go for many, due to all of the health benefits. Fish contains omega 3 fatty acids that are beneficial in many health aspects. Overall, fish appears to be a great alternative to meat and poultry consumption. Fish often provides more protein, less saturated fats and fewer calories. With the rise of fish consumption, now the worry is: can we eat too much fish?

"One of the risks of eating too much fish would be ingesting contaminants like mercury, lead, antibiotics, PCB's, food dyes, etc. Some fish have higher amounts of these contaminants than others. So you shouldn't just eat and eat without thinking about how much you're eating," says Dana Reed, a Certified Nutrition Specialist.

Fish are tainted by mercury released from power plants, municipal waste facilities and medical incinerators, which are the primary source of methylmercury in fish. Mercury is converted into methylmercury by bacteria that lives in the water, converting it into the toxin that is then introduced to the fish, as reported by USA Today.

The amount of contaminants in the fish is generally low but over time can accumulate to cause problems for some. While for most there are no known serious effects, there is a small group that should take precautions when they eat fish. "Pregnant and breastfeeding women should limit their consumption to 12 ounces per week, and they should definitely avoid the really large fish, because large fish tend to accumulate more mercury and other contaminants. Examples would be shark, tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel, albacore white tuna, and blue finned tuna. Shark in particular is dangerous", Reed says. It tends to be larger and older fish that represent the higher risk of contamination.

"For the rest of my clients, I find that most will benefit by including three or four servings a week of a variety of fish in their diet. When I say three or four servings, people think I mean three or four servings of salmon. I don't. I mean three or four servings of a variety of different types of fish. You should replace albacore white tuna with canned chunk light, because apparently the solid white albacore tuna is a much bigger fish than they use to get the chunk light. I think that's a very important tip for moms, because a lot of moms make their children tuna fish sandwiches without realizing the contaminate risks. It's also best to buy tuna packed in water rather than oil; however, you can get good quality tuna packaged in olive oil," Reed says.

As it is with many things, especially food, moderation is important. A good diet hinges on a balanced approach. By following the guidelines listed above, people should be safe in having a good amount of fish in their diets. By wisely choosing the types of fish people consume they should be able to capitalize on the advantages of fish without the worry of contaminants.

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