Fish and other seafood play an important role in a well balanced diet. They are often rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost your immunity and can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other ailments. Omega-3s are especially important for pregnant and nursing women, and young children. Unfortunately, some fish carry toxins that can become harmful when eaten frequently.
Over the past few years the amount of fish and seafood being consumed in my house has increased. Partly because my kids are getting older and are more willing to try new things and partly as a move to increase “healthier” options into my household. While I want to continue to introduce them to new fish and seafood – I’m also aware that there are certain fish that are at risk due to being over-fished and others that have high levels of mercury or other toxins.
I wanted to figure out if there was an application or website that I could easily access for questions around toxins or fish that were at risk from over consuming. In my research I found this site, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch which I really liked due to it’s “Super Green List”. “Super Green” – meaning it is both good for us to eat and does not harm the oceans. Their Super Green Lists includes seafood that meets the following three criteria:
- Low levels of contaminants (below 216 parts per billion [ppb] mercury and 11 ppb PCBs)
- The daily minimum of omega-3s (at least 250 milligrams per day [mg/d])*
- Classified as a Seafood Watch “Best Choice” (green)
You can download their Android or iPhone App or print out a pocket guide for your region, so you know what types of fish are safe for you and your family to consume. I will admit that there were a couple on the list that caught me off guard. And of a few of the fish it just depends on where they were caught – for instance Alaskan Wild salmon, is good for you, however farmed Salmon can be risky due to mercury and other contaminants.
Monterey Bay Aquarium’s best of the best include the following:
- Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)
- Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.)
- Oysters (farmed)
- Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)
- Rainbow Trout (farmed)
- Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)
I’d also recommend reviewing their list of common questions around contaminants in fish. One item particularly that stood out to me was how can take a year and a half for women to significantly reduce their mercury levels and 5 years or more to reduce PCB levels found in some fish.
Hopefully this article just helps us all to make more informed choices about what types of fish we consume and how decisions we make impact the environment – choose sustainable, non-toxic seafood.