| You may have heard pregnant women are supposed to avoid fish, but do you know what kinds, and why? Many kinds of fish are low in fat, high in protein and contain healthy oils that promote brain and heart health. It’s easy to prepare on the grill or in the oven, yet this favorite mainstay could be harming your unborn child, causing birth defects and even death.
The Mercury Connection
You are familiar with mercury—it’s in old-fashioned thermometers, dental fillings and even batteries. It’s very poisonous, causing household items containing mercury to be changed over to friendly versions. The fish aren’t playing with the batteries and thermometers, though—they’re being contaminated through industrial wastes polluting the water. The mercury builds up over time as the fish grows, making the big one that got a way a Godsend due to the high levels of mercury present.
What Should You Avoid?
The bigger fish are the ones to avoid, because mercury builds up over time as these kings of the ocean grow. The American Pregnancy Association ranks shark, swordfish, marlin grouper, orange roughy, king mackerel and tilefish as the fish with the highest levels of mercury. They should be avoided during pregnancy, by women wishing to become pregnant, and children. Raw fish and shellfish should be avoided, but more for their risk of bacteria and illness.
Fish For Moderation
The next grouping of fish contains high levels of mercury, and the American Pregnancy Association recommends they should be eaten in moderation, such as 3 times per month during pregnancy. This group contains canned white albacore tuna, fresh ahi or bluefin tuna, saltwater bass, croaker, halibut, sea trout, bluefish and lobster.
There are fish you can enjoy up to 6 servings per month. This group includes carp, Mahi mahi, blue and snow crab, monkfish, canned chunk light tuna, Pacific albacore fresh tuna, cod, skate, perch, snapper and herring.
Finally, if you’re a fish lover, there’s a huge list of fish you can enjoy twice a week during pregnancy. This group includes anchovies, canned and fresh salmon, butterfish, shelled delights like oysters, scallops and clams, delicacies such as calamari, shrimp, farmed caviar, rock lobster and king crab, and mainstays like talipia, flounder, haddock, pollock, catfish, whitefish shad, sole and sardines. If you can, purchase farmed fish, as these are grown in a mercury-reduced environment and tend to be safer.
Before You Eat…
If you or a loved one loves to fish recreationally, make sure you check with your state fish and game center to ensure the fish that reside in your state’s lakes, streams and coastlines are safe to eat. Though a fish may be on this list as a ‘safe’ choice, it may not be considered safe in your area due to large amounts of pollution and mercury contamination.